Tourism is the hope and the "heavy artillery" of the Cypriot economy, the President of the Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO) Alekos Orountiotis has said.
Orountiotis was speaking during a meeting with the press held here on Thursday on the occasion of World Tourism Day celebrated on September 27, under the title “Tourism and Sustainable Energy: Powering Sustainable Development”.
CTO President referred to the results of this year’s tourist season and the prospects for 2013, making special reference to the efforts made by the Organization to attract tourists from new tourism markets.
Orounitotis said that tourist arrivals for 2012 recorded an increase of around 3.5% -4% compared to 2011 arrivals, while an increase was also recorded in revenue from tourism compared to 2011.
Referring to the markets from which Cyprus attracts tourism, he said that the flow of tourists from the UK to Cyprus continued to decline and record losses, while a large increase was recorded in tourist arrivals from the Russian market.
He also expressed the view that a very significant increase of around 45% in tourist arrivals from the Russian market will be recorded by the end of 2012, corresponding to 410-420 thousand tourists from Russia with the prospect of reaching a half million arrivals.
Referring to the recent visit of a CTO delegation to Moscow, Orountiotis said messages from Moscow are very optimistic," adding that "it seems that the Russian market will continue maintain the same momentum."
He noted that five thousand Russian tourists will visit Cyprus during the Christmas season.
Referring to the efforts by CTO to attract tourists from new tourism markets, he said that these efforts are directed at attracting tourists from countries such as China, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Japan and Hong Kong.
He noted however that the big challenge for CTO is to manage to attract tourists from the Chinese market, noting that an agreement in principle had already been reached with a tour operator providing for directing to Cyprus thousands of Chinese tourists in 2013.
He said that problems related to visa and flight connection need to be solved first.
He also said that CTO is negotiating with a major Chinese airline for that matter as well as with Cyprus Airways which have shown interest to perform a number flights in case the Chinese market opens up.
CTO President noted that "tourism is the hope and currently the" heavy artillery "of the economy."
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