Outgoing Trade and Tourism Minister Neoklis Sylikiotis seems to have got it wrong. When it comes to the tourist industry, calling on hoteliers to hire more Cypriots will not solve the problem. It will simply push labour costs and will make Cyprus even less than competitive than what it is today.
The biggest problem we face today is the pitiful marketing budget of the Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO), that has seen its advertising spend reduced year by year, with the ruling pro-labour administration doing nothing to reduce costs in the past five years that would have provided more money to be spent in promoting the island.
True, the arrivals from Russia have been on the rise, and to be fair, this is due to review of the visa procedure and the creation of more consular offices in the CIS. However, a fully electronic online system would have allowed for visas to be reviewed and issued within days, if not hours, boosting arrivals even further.
Even the extension of the charter airlines’ operating season by a month and a half will increase arrivals by about 150,000 touruists a year, by CTO’s estimates, but that begs the question, “why not, all year round?”
The minister had all praise for the deals with low-cost operators Ryanair and Easyjet, but was short for words when asked about the termination of flights by Olympic.
What Cyprus needs is strategic thinking and not knee-jerk reaction to events. We hope that the new president will appoint people in public places with at least some knowledge of the field in which they are expected to serve. And tourism should be a priority.
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