Famagusta hoteliers said the past two weeks have been good for business, with more Russian tourists and Cypriots taking their annual holiday, boosting capacity to over 80%.
In comments to the Financial Mirror, the Cyprus Hotel Association Famagusta branch chairman, Doros Takkas, said hoteliers had seen their establishments fill up from 7-22 August, mainly thanks to Cypriots opting for a staycation.
Traditionally most Cypriots take their annual leave mid-August when most businesses close for a week from the 15 August, marking a religious holiday for Greek Orthodox Christians.
“The Deputy Ministry of Tourism’s scheme sponsoring holidays for vaccinated Cypriots has paid off, allowing for hoteliers to feel optimistic for the future.
“We are actually feeling blessed this year as 2021 has proven to be slightly, but still better than 2020,” said Takkas.
He Cypriots staying at home, combined with a recent increase in Russian tourists arrivals, has meant hotels can survive another coronavirus-stricken year.
Takkas said bookings picked up in August, as Famagusta district hotels saw a capacity of 15% in May, 30% in June and 50% in July.
“Last year, almost one in four hotels in Ayia Napa and Protaras opted not to open for the summer season as there were virtually no arrivals from the island’s major markets, the UK and Russia.”
Takkas said hoteliers were also surprised this August to see tourists arriving from new markets like France, Lebanon, and Jordan.
“These tourists had booked their vacation themselves, through online booking platforms.”
He said the tourism industry should build on this August wave of newcomers and local tourists to bolster arrivals during the autumn when Cyprus still has warm weather.
“Although we cannot know what lays ahead, we know that Russian tour operators and airlines will be offering the same number of packages and seats in September and October.”
The Famagusta CHA chair said the island’s tourism industry must start preparing for the coming years.
“We can say from now that 2022 will not be a good year, but we hope the upward trend in booking in the past weeks will continue through to next year.
“We expect to see bookings and arrivals really pick in 2023.”
Takkas, reaffirming Famagusta hoteliers’ optimism, added they would not be able to have a positive outlook without the help of government furlough schemes for hotel employees.
Ayia Napa Mayor Christos Zanettos told the Cyprus News Agency that major tour operators had reassured local stakeholders that more bookings would be flying in if Cyprus improves its epidemiological picture over the coming weeks.
“Most arrivals in Ayia Napa are from Russia, which is the main market in the free district of Famagusta, as these tourists visit the area for the sea, water sports, nightlife and everything else on offer,” said Zanettos.
The Ayia Napa Mayor said that local businesses are doing their part to keeping the virus under control in the area.
“Most of the inhabitants and people working in the region have been vaccinated, while businesses stick to the protocols issued by the Health Ministry, keeping cases in Ayia Napa at a minimum.”