CYPRUS: World Travel Market wants to see more than sun and sea

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Cyprus is satisfied with the outcome of London's World Travel Market, but the holiday island was urged to offer more than just sun, sea and sand to compete, said Deputy Tourism Minister Savvas Perdios.

He held around 20 meetings with airlines and travels firms during the WTM – one of the world’s largest travel shows.

Perdios told CNA that what these companies asked from Cyprus was to better promote its tourism with a new brand beyond the ‘sun and sea’ model and this will be unveiled next March at Berlin’s ITB travel trade show.

He said that Cyprus has started implementing a new 10-year strategic plan for tourism to move the country’s product beyond the traditional ‘sun and sea’ offering.

The new plan seeks to attract visitors aged over 50, not a traditional pool for Cypriot tourism. It will also emphasise short breaks and attracting visitors from new markets such as Eastern Europe, the Middle East, America, China and Japanese.

Perdios hailed the collaboration with Greece, Israel, Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan to sell joint holiday packages such as cruises in the Eastern Mediterranean.

The new strategic plan also includes the promotion of various thematic forms of tourism, such as biking, gastronomy, sports, health and wellness.

Diversification of Cyprus’ tourism is part of making the island a year-round travel destination.

“The extension of the tourism season is a dream for us. It was not possible to pursue such a dream without the solid foundation needed,” said Perdios.

“Over the last decade we established the sun and sea model, which can now serve as the backbone that allows us to go for the more detailed and special forms or tourism. Already for the current year we will have an increase in winter arrivals of around 10% in relation to last year.”

He added that the season extension will also benefit job creation and regions of Cyprus that may have been left behind in terms of tourism, such as mountainous and rural areas.

The Deputy Minister said Cyprus is “fully ready” in terms of infrastructure to welcome more tourists, citing renovated hotels, new marinas and the integrated casino resort that will open in 2021.

Tourists arrivals for 2019 are expected stay at last year’s level of almost 4 million, “despite challenges such as the big competition, Brexit and the default of Thomas Cook”.