‘Cau­tious op­ti­mism’ for tourism in 2017

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

Tourism and En­ergy Min­is­ter Gior­gos Lakkotrypis has taken his ex­cite­ment about fu­ture tourist ar­rivals down by one notch, ex­press­ing ‘cau­tious op­ti­mism’ for the prospects next year.

He told travel in­dus­try pro­fes­sion­als dur­ing this week’s World Travel Mar­ket in London that 2017 will be an even bet­ter year than 2016 in terms of at­tract­ing vis­i­tors.

The cur­rent year is draw­ing to a close with es­ti­mates point­ing to a record 3.1 mil­lion vis­i­tors, 1.1 mil­lion of which will have come from the UK. Ar­rivals from Rus­sia and Is­rael have also recorded a no­table rise.

“These im­proved num­bers are down to a com­bi­na­tion of other fac­tors af­fect­ing coun­tries in the re­gion that are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing dif­fi­cul­ties and of course Cyprus be­ing ready to wel­come the in­creased tourist flows. Let’s not for­get that in 2015, when a num­ber of ad­verse cir­cum­stances weighed upon Cypriot tourism, we still man­aged to in­crease our num­bers by 9% (year on year),” said the min­is­ter.

Lakkotrypis noted that the pos­i­tive pic­ture does not mean that there are no chal­lenges ahead, point­ing to the fall in the value of the Bri­tish pound. He did, how­ever, say that he is op­ti­mistic that the neg­a­tive im­pact of the weak­ened ster­ling will be “ab­sorbed”, as the tourism in­dus­try has al­ready taken steps that main­tain Cyprus as a good des­ti­na­tion for Bri­tish vis­i­tors.

Lakkotrypis, ac­com­pa­nied by the se­nior of­fi­cials of the Cyprus Tourism Or­gan­i­sa­tion, met with rep­re­sen­ta­tives of tour op­er­a­tors Thomas Cook and TUI as well as EasyJet, Jet2 and Monarch air­lines. He also dis­cussed var­i­ous is­sues with tourism of­fi­cials and pro­fes­sion­als from the is­land that were among the tens of Cypriot ex­hibitors at the WTM.

In terms of the ob­jec­tives of his visit to London, the min­is­ter said: “Among other things, we are in­ter­ested in air­lines adding new flight routes, so that we are able to reach new mar­kets.”

Dur­ing a press con­fer­ence at the Ex­cel ex­hi­bi­tion cen­tre in east London, where the World Travel Mar­ket in be­ing held, Lakkotrypis high­lighted Cyprus’s em­pha­sis on the­matic tourism, a strat­egy that has di­ver­si­fied the is­land’s prod­uct and has broad­ened its ap­peal: “The is­land is not of­fer­ing just ‘sun and sea’ any­more. With this change, along with in­vest­ment in in­fra­struc­ture, we have re­gained our com­pet­i­tive­ness.”

He also made spe­cial ref­er­ence to the plan to ex­tend the tourist pe­riod into win­ter.

“Cyprus can’t be turned into a 12-month des­ti­na­tion overnight. What we want to do is have ho­tels open­ing a week ear­lier each year and clos­ing a week later, and that’s what has been hap­pen­ing with ho­tels shut­ting at the end of Novem­ber this year and open­ing in March in­stead of April,” said the Min­is­ter.

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