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Goal to increase tourist arrivals by 5% to 10%

23/03/2023 09:20

Cyprus' Deputy Minister of Tourism, Kostas Koumis on Wednesday, said the goal was increasing tourist arrivals in 2023 by 5% to 10% compared to 2022. Speaking at the annual conference of the Association of Tourist Enterprises (ACTE), he said that they expect 2023 to be a good year as regards arrivals.

In his speech, he noted that, they have a goal, a 5% to 10% increase compared to 2022, though they can hope for more.

Koumis said that his Deputy Ministry was ready to fight for even better results and face all the challenges “and we have started work to face this eternal threat”, as he described the burning issue of climate change. If solutions are not found today, the problems for future generations will be much bigger, he added.

He underlined the issue of sustainability in tourism and said that the team dealing with sustainability at the Deputy Ministry will grow horizontally and become interdepartmental. He also announced that the Deputy Ministry has started drawing up a new national strategy for tourism with a focus on 2035.

Acting Permanent Secretary of the Transport Ministry, Yiannis Nicolaides, in his speech, stressed that the main axis of their policy was continuous improvement of connectivity, through which tourism continues to grow. The goal of increasing air traffic by about 50% by 2027, which means 14 million passengers, is achievable, he said.

He referred to the cooperation of the Ministry with the Deputy Ministry of Tourism and the operator of the Cyprus airports, Hermes, emphasising that this cooperation, together with the incentive plans for the airlines, resulted in Cyprus becoming one of the countries with the least decrease in air transport and enabled air transport to restart as soon as possible after the pandemic.

Nicolaides also referred to the upward trend of cruises, saying that this small industry in 2019 recorded 61,000 arrivals, which rose to 122,000 in 2022, estimating that the numbers will rise in 2023.

British High Commissioner to Cyprus, Irfan Siddiq, also sent optimistic messages, stressing that a change in the behaviour of tourists is being recorded due to sustainability.

He noted that, after the easing of pandemic restrictions there was a pent-up demand but said he did not think it can be taken for granted that that will continue, particularly as the need for the green agenda and sustainable tourism rises. Siddiq referred to the links between the two countries noting that there are 70,000 British permanent residents on the island while also referring to and niche areas such wedding package holidays.

He said that it was possible to retain the impressive and high levels of UK visitors to Cyprus, but added that a big part of the marketing is particularly moving away from what traditionally has been the British model of large charter package tourists to more independent and bespoke tourism, people who develop their own itineraries, looking for culture heritage, wineries and agrotourism.

German Ambassador to Cyprus, Anke Schlimm, said that although tourist arrivals from her country are not close to those from the United Kingdom, an increase in demand for Cyprus is recorded and she referred to the estimates of the Deputy Ministry for 200,000 tourists this year, a level which was achieved 26 years ago.

The Ambassador said that German tourists possibly are not package tourism lovers but like individual choice, cycling and hiking and that Cyprus offers a big variety of activities with beautiful beaches, byzantine churches archaeological sites. She also noted that German tourists would like agrotourism and this was something that could be further developed.

She also said that there is a lot of awareness for Greece in Germany, and that she would love if there was more marketing for Cyprus. The Ambassador also referred to the need for more bicycle lanes in Troodos.

Chairman of ACTE, Akis Vavlitis, in his closing remarks, referred to the challenges hoteliers face such as higher electricity bills due to charges for emissions and suggested the reduction of VAT from 9% to 5% only for accommodation for the next two to three years help the sector.

He also requested that, as part of the support for their green transition, special plans for grants for sustainable investments should be offered to the hotel industry. Vavlitis said that they strongly believe that the sustainable development of tourism should be a national goal.