Cypriots are making the most of an upgraded state scheme to boost domestic tourism by encouraging them to take a discounted local holiday during the pandemic.
However, tourism stakeholders feel this is not enough to get the tourism sector out of the tight spot it has found itself because of coronavirus travel restrictions for foreign tourists.
The Deputy Ministry of Tourism plan, providing affordable prices from hotels with the state subsidizing part of the cost, has been welcomed by hundreds of residents, confirmed the Cyprus Hotel Association.
In comments to the Financial Mirror, the CHA’s Director-General Philokypros Roussounides said the scheme has been well received but Cypriots will soon be going back to their daily routine.
“People are going back to work, schools have opened. We expect to see hotels fill up mainly on weekends,” Roussounides noted.
He added that “nothing has changed, the situation remains bad”.
Currently, 96 hotels are participating in the scheme with a few more expected to join after the Deputy Ministry of Tourism issued a second call to hoteliers earlier this week.
Roussounides said hotels participating in the scheme will not be making a profit but are taking part to support businesses dependent on the tourism industry.
“Despite it being a difficult decision, a large number of our members are willingly participating in the scheme as an indication of appreciation and to support the government’s efforts to back the tourism industry at such a difficult time,” said Roussounides.
He added that Cyprus tourism is not only about hotels, despite them being the backbone of the industry.
“We aim to help the broader sector which includes restaurants and tavernas in touristic areas. That is why we have only included breakfast in our packages.
We want as much of the industry to come out of the crisis alive.”
Asked if he felt the scheme could have been introduced earlier, as tourists from Cyprus’ main markets were unable to come due to travel restrictions, Roussounides said that when decisions were taken before the summer season, the data at hand was different.
“We had no way of knowing what to expect, and from which markets. A scheme to boost domestic tourism, nevertheless, could have been introduced but with a different form.
Certainly, without the very low ceiling of €80 per night.”
He said the industry will need a couple of years to regain its confidence and claim back what was lost during the pandemic.
“Despite the blows we have taken, we walk away from this crisis, wiser,” said Roussounides.
Under the plan, Cypriots can stay at a quality hotel for just €60 a night, during a period when the island still has plenty of sun.
A variety of hotels, including four and five-star, apartments and other tourist accommodation participate in the scheme, offering the maximum price of €80 for a double room in September including breakfast, €70 in October and €60 in November.
Also, 25% of the accommodation costs will be covered by the ministry, including, in some cases, the charges for children who stay in the same room as their parents.
Cypriot holidaymakers have a wide range of hotels to choose from https://www.visitcyprus.com/index.php/en/domestic-tourism-2020.