Hoteliers are turning to Cypriots still in a holiday mode to boost occupancy, with tourist numbers still nowhere near those of the pre-coronavirus era, despite a last-minute upturn.
While hoping an upward trend in August will continue until October as Cyprus is still warm, hoteliers are banking on Cypriots taking late or additional holidays.
Residents of the island can take advantage of an extended scheme for state-sponsored staycations for those COVID-19 vaccinated until the end of November.
Hotels are offering stays at a maximum of €60 a night per room, with the government subsidising 35% of the total cost of the holiday booked.
The ceiling for rooms offered to vaccinated locals during the summer was €80 per night, with holidaymakers paying €59.
More five-star hotels have decided to join, offering Cypriots the chance to enjoy a luxury holiday.
The subsidy applicable as of September is activated once a minimum of two nights stay is paid for – so two nights at €60 is reduced from €120 to €78.
Those eligible are Cyprus residents who have been vaccinated with at least one dose of a vaccine or who have recovered from Covid-19 up to 180 days before their stay at the hotel.
Director-General of the Cyprus Hotel Association said hoteliers showed a strong interest in participating in the scheme to complement income from a tragic 2020.
In comments to the Financial Mirror, Philokypros Roussounides said over 35 hotels have jumped on board the scheme for September, increasing the number of hotels offering cheaper rooms to Cypriots around 220.
Roussounides said with a boost from the domestic market, hoteliers expect to see the year-end with the overall number of bookings reaching 35% of those in pre-COVID 2019.
He estimated that bookings made by Cypriots are double those made in 2019.
Hoteliers in 2020 received only 15% of bookings made in 2019 due to lockdown measures.
“Traditionally, bookings made by Cypriots amount for 6-7% of all bookings made at the island’s hotels. However, this year we will probably see Cypriots make up for 14% of all bookings.”
It has helped some hotels to stay afloat, opening in the summer and staying open in the fall, allowing employees to return to work and get off the furlough program.
“However, we must be clear that hotel establishments cannot survive just on local tourists. They need an influx of foreign tourists to stay afloat.”
Roussounides said hotels saw 40% of bookings in August, compared to bookings made by foreigners the same month in 2019.
“August gave us a glimmer of hope, as we saw the flow from the Russian market stabilise, while numbers from the UK are growing by the day.
“Additionally, flights from Israel to the island will be back on from 6 September.”
Hermes Airports said passenger traffic in August reached 60% of that two years ago.
“The results for the first eight months of 2021 show passenger traffic was 2,511,239, which corresponds to 33% of the same period in 2019.
“Data for arrivals for August alone, passenger traffic reached 867,104 passengers, approximately 60% of the same month in 2019”.
Airports operator Hermes said the pandemic allowed them to find out more about the profile of tourists.
Hermes looked at trends from 25 May to 22 August, processing over 1 million unique data from the Cyprus Flight Pass.
Russians were the largest chunk of arrivals, with 39%, followed by arrivals from the UK amounting to a disappointing 10%.
In the pre-coronavirus years, UK visitors made up for a third of all tourist arrivals.
Arrivals from Cyprus, traditionally third-largest market, Israel, was just 4%.
Poland was also a blossoming market for Cyprus, contributing 8% of all arrivals.
Almost half of the tourists arriving in Cyprus from 15 May to 22 August chose Ayia Napa and Protaras for their holidays.
Paphos was the second most preferred destination as 27% of tourists stayed in the district, followed by Larnaca and Limassol with 12% each.
Only 1% of tourists chose to spend their holidays in the capital Nicosia.
Cyprus in 2020 saw tourist arrivals slashed by a record 84%.
Pre-Covid-19, over 33% of Cyprus’ record 3.97 million tourist arrivals in 2019 came from the UK (1.4 mln).
Hotels on offer for vaccinated Cypriots can be found here https://www.visitcyprus.com/index.php/en/domestic-tourism-2020-2021