Cyprus tourism facing a “very difficult year”

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Cyprus tourism is in damage limitation mode from the coronavirus outbreak as it faces a “very difficult year”, Deputy Minister for Tourism Savvas Perdios said.

Perdios has briefed the cabinet on the impact of the coronavirus on Cyprus’ tourism, a vital driver of the island’s economy. Cyprus has already confirmed its first two coronavirus cases.

An excellent rate of tourist reservations observed in February was followed by a freeze for March and April.

Perdios said that “a battle is needed” for Cyprus to earn its share of the tourism pie.

“Our effort for this year is to limit the damage. This is a very difficult moment for tourism not just for Cyprus but globally,” Perdios said.

The World Tourism Organisation has downgraded its estimates on global tourism to a contraction of 3% compared with the previous estimate for 4% growth.

“Surely this is something that will affect Cyprus as well,” he said, noting it’s very difficult to make any projections at the moment.

Perdios added that short-term measures will focus on April and May while medium-term measures will concentrate on the summer season.

“But it is important for all of us to know that we have a very difficult year ahead of us. I don’t think we can speak of reaching last year’s levels.”

Cyprus enjoyed record tourist arrivals of 3.97 million last year.

Perdios said that other country’s measures to contain the spread of coronavirus are not helpful, such as Israel’s decision to impose self-isolation on all inbound tourism or Israeli’s returning home.

“Essentially this means that no Israeli would want to leave the country. Therefore, everything is constantly changing.”

Israel has recently emerged as the island’s third-largest tourist market behind the UK and Russia.

“As the Cyprus tourist season lasts for eight months, from the moment March, April and May are affected the remaining five months are not enough to recover the lost ground.”

Perdios said the “real battle” will begin in the summer to win Cyprus’ market share.

“It is not certain that we will win our share because a price war will take place.”