Tourism back on track ‘in next few years’

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An upward trend in tourist arrivals, especially from non-traditional markets, has left stakeholders confident that the Cyprus holiday industry will be back on track in the next couple of years, reaching the pre-coronavirus 2019 record breaking levels.

Deputy Minister of Tourism Savvas Perdios told media outlet StockWatch that he felt confident a trend building up in July and August will continue into the autumn.

“Our initial predictions that we would see a significant increase in tourist inflows in the second half of 2021 have been confirmed. In July, arrivals reached 55% of those recorded in 2019 and in August that rate rose to 62%,” Perdios said.

He argued that if stakeholders could keep arrivals at the same levels in September and October, Cyprus’ tourism industry will be on firmer ground in 2022.

Perdios said that stakeholders expect to see an increase in holidaymakers from Britain, as arrivals of British tourists were lower than expected in August due to last minute tweaking of travel guidance from the UK government.

The junior minister added that the coronavirus pandemic and restrictions in traditional markets, has boosted Cyprus plans to diversify the tourism product by opening up to new markets.

He said that the island has been trying to complement its traditional markets, which are the UK, Russia and Israel with new destinations.

An effort has now accelerated “thanks to the collective effort of the last 18 months by the Ministry of Tourism, the airports operator Hermes and the Ministry of Transport”.

“At the moment there is an healthy flow of tourists from Poland and Hungary, which is a new market for Cyprus, while flights from Italy and France have increased. Connections with Scandinavian countries such as Denmark have also increased significantly,” said the minister.


Individual spending on the rise

Perdios added that tourists who did make their way to the island, although less than those arriving in pre-coronavirus 2019, spent more per person.

“In 2019, each tourist spent on average €615, while in June this year, each tourist spent an average of €760.

Overall, in 2021 Cyprus has seen just 35% of the number of tourists arriving in 2019, adding that Cypriots also had their share in keeping tourist enterprises afloat.

Tourism was given a boost by a state-sponsored staycation scheme for vaccinated Cypriots in a bid for the industry to make the most out of the winter months.

Earlier in the month, the junior ministry said it had been encouraged by the results of the sponsored summer holidays scheme for residents, which generated 300,000 overnight stays at the island’s hotels.

The plan has been extended to January, allowing Cypriots to take advantage of sponsored stays at Cyprus’ hotels, including a list of five-star properties.

The subsidy applicable as of September is activated once a minimum two-night stay is paid for – so, two nights at €60 is reduced from €120 to €78.

Perdios said that the junior ministry’s national strategy has included the local market, noting that stakeholders’ plans should include Cypriots.

“This is a special market and I hope everyone in the last six months has realised that domestic tourism, although it cannot replace the income we have from foreign tourists, can give a significant boost to a higher per capita expenditure.”

He concluded that the ministry plans to continue its staycation sponsoring scheme, at least for the next couple of years, giving an extra push to the industry.