Hotels face tough CTO test

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The Chairman of the Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO) told a House Finance Committee meeting discussing the CTO budget that the organisation intends to submit tough criteria on the classification of hotels as part of a plan to boost the island’s tourism product image.

CTO Chairman Photis Photiou said the majority of hotels are worthy of their classifications, but there are some that are operating below the permitted levels and ruining the island’s image.

The reclassification project is one of two simultaneous processes that the CTO has undertaken to clean up the hotel sector. The second comes from an outside study, and involves the withdrawal or demolition of sub-standard tourist accommodation units. This study will also be ready by the end of next month. It envisages offering cash and other incentives to hoteliers and apartment owners to upgrade, change the use of their buildings, or have them demolished. As many as 10% of tourist beds could go under this scheme, which is slated to cost millions of pounds. Phase one of the study has earmarked 250 low-quality and unsightly tourist establishments either for closure or upgrading.

He also called on local authorities to clean up their act in the areas surrounding many hotels, where he said there were reports of rubbish being piled up. Foreign experts have on several occasions noted that five star hotels in Cyprus are located in no-star surroundings.

Photiou said the only way to reverse the negative picture of the island’s tourism was to proceed with the strategic plan to 2010, saying it should become the “gospel” of tourism’s future.

Photiou said the CTO’s budget for this year would come to around CYP 37 mln, of which CYP 24 mln would be spent on advertising and promotion.

He also said prospects for 2005 were satisfactory with a forecast increase of between 2 to 5%.