Fewer hotels to close this winter

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An influx of tourists in September and October, combined with a state-sponsored staycation scheme for Cypriots, have helped hoteliers stay open this winter.

In comments to the Financial Mirror, the Director-General of the Cyprus Hotel Association, Philokypros Roussounides, said the surge in arrivals combined with extending the staycation scheme until March 2022 boosted hoteliers’ morale.

Roussounides said that winter 2021 is expected to be a little bit kinder than previous pre-coronavirus years when 90% of establishments would close.

With tourist arrivals waning, 80% of hotel units are preparing to shut next month, which is still below the annual average.

He added that although the state-sponsored staycations scheme is a good incentive for some units to remain open during the winter months, most hotels choose to close.

“The scheme has played its role in keeping the momentum going, giving an extra incentive to hoteliers to remain open in the previous months,” said Roussounides.

“In the summer months of July and August, when the state scheme was used to the fullest by Cypriots, the grants reached approximately €3.5 mln.

“Essentially, hotels saw around €10 mln going into their coffers from the scheme, while in the corresponding months (July-August) of 2019, our overall revenues were more than half a billion euros, so one can see how much this plan contributes financially.”

He said the scheme was a great boost as it helped hotels keep going when there were no foreign tourists due to COVID travel restrictions.

Hotels are currently offering stays at a maximum of €60 a night per room, with the government subsidising 35% of the total cost of the holiday booked until the end of November.

From 1 December until the end of March 2022, it will be a maximum of €70 a night per room, with the government subsidising 25% of the booking.

The scheme is addressed to all Cyprus residents on the condition that they have been vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19 in the past six months.

Roussounides said that hotels are hesitant to make predictions for 2022, as the pandemic has proven unpredictable.

“In the past two months, we have received positive messages from the increase of arrivals.

“In combination with what our partners abroad are telling us, we should be in for a good year.

“Good for us would be occupancy rates above 60% of those recorded in 2019.

“Our optimism is boosted by the satisfactory influx of tourists from new markets such as Poland, France, Germany and Ukraine.

“With targeted actions, we will try not only to continue but also further to enhance the influx of tourists from new markets, because our tourism product should not be dependent only on two markets.”