Cyprus Deputy Ministry of Tourism while satisfied that 2019 ended with breaking the record for tourist arrivals it has produced a 10-year roadmap to ensure the island’s long-term future.
Earlier this week, Tourism Minister Savvas Perdios presented his ministry’s 10-year national strategy plan to MPs.
Commenting on last year’s 3.97 mln visitors record, Perdios noted it was the result of efforts by his ministry along with all stakeholders in the island’s tourism sector.
Looking ahead, the Ministry aims to increase tourist flows to the island by 30% by the end of the decade.
Perdios said the ambitious national plan aims to be a “game-changer” for Cyprus tourism.
He said the strategy will rebrand Cyprus with the ultimate aim of placing it amongst the world’s top 30 tourist destinations.
Cyprus is currently the 44th top tourist destination said Perdios quoting the Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2019 of the World Economic Forum.
The top 30 list includes Spain (number 1), France (3), Italy (8), Portugal (12), Greece (25) and Croatia (27).
“Placing ourselves on this list will mean that we are a quality destination, and will no longer have to worry about competition from neighbouring countries who offer cheaper packages than ours such as Turkey (No. 43), Bulgaria (45), Egypt (65) and Israel (57),” said Perdios.
He said the strategy is designed on five pillars, broken down into yearly plans which will need parliament’s approval.
The first pillar is to establish the island as a year-round destination, which offers more than sun and sea tourism.
The Ministry will put the spotlight on rural areas with separate branding campaigns.
Special emphasis will be placed on promoting Cyprus as a destination for special interest tourism, such as gastronomy, sports and conferences.
Perdios said that for these plans to materialise air connectivity needs to improve to diversify the countries from which tourists arrive.
The second pillar aspires to establish Cyprus as a quality destination by improving price competitiveness and offering value-for-money services to tourists.
A series of actions will be taken to modernize the legislative framework related to services such as restaurants, taxis, rental vehicles, theme parks etc.
The plan also aspires to see Cyprus becoming a ‘smart’ destination by making the best use of data on tourism services offered globally. The ministry aims to utilise data from online reputation management platforms like Trip Advisor.
Encouraging tourist to come back to the island by introducing a reward system scheme at various sites and improving public transport is also a priority for the ministry.
The ministry also wants to enhance Cyprus’ image as an eco-friendly destination.
“As people become more concerned over climate change and their own carbon footprint, a growing number of environmentally aware tourists from northern European countries opt to travel closer to home. That is one of the reasons why we need to enhance our image as a country which has respect for the environment.”
As far as numbers are concerned, the ministry aims to increase overnight stays by around 32% over the next decade to around 48 million which translates into a 31% increase in arrivals expected to reach 5 million.
Cyprus is also seeking to increase annual tourism income generated by €1.5 bln, reaching almost 4.5 bln by 2030.
The aim is to increase daily average spending by tourists to €87 – from €75 – which is “entirely feasible”.
A study by a Spanish consultancy firm suggested that Cyprus could raise its income from tourism to €7 bln annually.
“The Deputy Ministry feels that with all that is happening around us, we need to be more down to earth that is why we are aiming for €4.5 bln”.
Last year saw DPM officials concentrate on promoting Cyprus as a tourist destination in the Middle East, but 2020 will find them travelling to northern Europe, with emphasis on Scandinavia.
There will also be separate campaigns targeting various age groups.
Meanwhile, hoteliers have welcomed the plan noting that for the first time a “plan with a vision for the future” is not only drawn up but also put on paper with measurable goals.
Director-General of the Cyprus Hotels Association, Zacharias Ioannides said that they welcome the strategic plan and will work closely with the ministry so as to achieve goals set.
“The goal of promoting Cyprus’ tourism is a common one, and now is the time for all stakeholders, including ministries, hoteliers and tour operators to pull together to achieve them,” said Ioannides.