Chairman of Cyprus Hotels Association Haris Loizides, said Tuesday that hotels bookings were 5% to 10% down according to the first data for 2019, pointing out the need for Cyprus to explore new markets that would contribute to the prolongation of the tourist season and the emergence of Cyprus as an all year-round destination.
Loizides was speaking at the Annual General Assembly of the Association, held Tuesday in Nicosia in the presence of the President of the Republic Nicos Anastasiades, members of the Cabinet, party leaders and other officials.
In his speech, the President pointed out that the ultimate target of the Government`s actions was to further upgrade the tourist product and to guarantee of sustainable development in the ever-growing competitive international environment, listing a series of actions and decisions of the Government in this direction.
President Anastasiades noted that tourism is one of the basic pillars of economic growth with a significant contribution to GDP, referring to the record highs in arrivals and revenues of the last years. He also noted the direct and indirect contribution of tourism to employment.
He talked about the "booming tourism sector" in Cyprus, noting that tourism has evolved into a highly competitive market that is moving at a rapid pace, influenced by regional developments as well as changes in people`s habits that are constantly causing new needs, interests and quests.
At the same time, he highlighted the promotion on behalf of the government of major infrastructure projects such as the casino resort and the marinas and expressed the hope that some of the licensed golf projects would begin to be implemented.
He also referred to the implementation of open-sky policy, the conclusion of cooperation agreements with major tour operators abroad, and the granting of urban and other incentives to promote tourism development and upgrading of existing infrastructure and services.
He also pointed out that the Government was also promoting a major initiative, to modernize the regulatory framework of tourism in order to facilitate the licensing and operation of businesses active in the tourism sector, such as travel agents, restaurants and bars. He particularly referred to the regulation of Airbnb, so that there is control over both the quality of services offered and revenues.
The President also referred to the new Deputy Ministry of Tourism, the creation of which, as he said, was an important and historic reform and noted that Deputy Minister of Tourism has submitted and implemented a significant number of policy proposals through his presence in the Cabinet.
On his part Chairman of Cyprus Hotels Association said that the target set for 2019 and 2020 was to stabilize bookings at the satisfactory levels of 2018.
As he said the facts that curbed the upward trend of the Cyprus tourism in 2018, were even more intense this year.
"As a result, at the moment, there is a noticeable reduction by 5% to 10% in the bookings, depending on the tourist area," Loizides said.
In particular, he said that the international uncertainty around Brexit and the weakening of the exchange rate of the Russian currency against the euro were developments that affected Cyprus tourism to a large extent.
He said that the situation was even more difficult due to the loss of flights from Germany and Central Europe after the closure of three airlines. He added that devaluation of the Turkish lira and the generous subsidies for flights to the tourist destinations of the country was also affecting tourist flows. At the same time, he noted that competitiveness of the Cyprus tourist package was also affected by the energy costs affecting hotel units and airlines.
Loizides said that in 2018 the increase in arrivals was up to 8%, a particularly important growth when taking it to account the conditions that existed, such as the reduction on arrivals from UK and Russia, which were the two main touristic markets in Cyprus and the recovery of competitive tourist destinations such as Turkey, Egypt and Tunisia.