Award for cruise pioneer Loizou

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Cyprus cruising pioneer Costakis Loizou, who transformed a small family travel agency into a major hotels and tourism company, received the InBusiness Lifetime Achievement Award for his 50 years’ contribution to the industry.

Presenting the award, President Nicos Anastasiades described Loizou as “a visionary, an active businessman, with ethics and determination who has managed to stand out in the activities related to tourism, to highlight and promote our country.”

“Greek is one of the richest languages. But words cannot convey what he represents when you are called upon to refer to this entrepreneur.”

Anastasiades said: “Tonight’s magnificent gathering of the business world of Cyprus creates another dynamic.

“Of course, we face difficult times; external factors always affect Cypriot business, but we have faced more difficult challenges, and we have succeeded.”

Costakis Loizou, 78, is the executive chairman of the Louis Group, which grew from his father’s travel and shipping agency.

He took over in 1971, first by adding the hotels division Sunotels in 1976, later renamed Louis Hotels.

By 1992, the portfolio of hotels included properties in Cyprus and Greece. Then, in 1986 took the bold decision to expand into the cruises business, with the Princessa Marisa the company’s flagship vessel for years.

Loizou saw an opportunity in east Mediterranean mini-trips, combining the fly-and-cruise concept with tourists, mainly from the UK, Germany and Scandinavia, embarking on three, four and seven-day cruises to Egypt, the Holy Lands, and a combination of both.

In the cruise hey-day, which injected new life into Limassol port, Louis Cruise Lines accounted for the lion’s share of 300,000 passengers a year, while LCL expanded the fleet to a dozen vessels that included year-long ‘branded’ charters to major British and European tour operators.

Facing challenges from the conflict in the Middle East, the Egypt and Holy Lands cruises were shelved and restarted several times until Costakis Loizou moved the fleet to Greece in 2014, operating mainly Aegean Mediterranean cruises under the new brand, Celestyal.

The Piraeus-based cruise company, formerly a subsidiary of Louis Plc, owns and operates two cruise ships, the Olympia and the Crystal.

In November 2021, New York-based Searchlight Capital Partners took control of the company pumping €70 mln in fresh funds.

Celestyal ceased to be a wholly-owned subsidiary of Louis Plc, and the Cyprus travel giant is now a minority owner with a 40% stake.

Beyond cruises and hotels, Loizou added several other divisions to the Louis Group, including LGS Handling in 2008, providing ground and aircraft management services to airlines at Larnaca and Paphos airports.

He is active in community affairs, headed several business groups and in 1989 became Honourary Consul for Hungary.