Hoteliers claim 10% of tourists go north

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Hoteliers fear they are losing out to competition from hotels in the Turkish-occupied north, as they calculate that one in ten tourists arriving on the island crosses over.

In comments to the Kathimerini Cyprus edition, the honourary chair of the Cyprus Hotel Association, Haris Loizides, said that hoteliers calculated that 10% of all tourist arrivals this summer reside in a hotel in the north.
Loizides said that around 5% of tourist arrivals were northbound in the past three to four years.

Although not backed up by hard data, hoteliers’ claims are supported by taxi driver reports of an increase in Turkish Cypriot licensed tourist mini-vans waiting at airports to pick up tourists.

At the same time, Turkish Cypriot media note increased tourist flows to the north.

Meanwhile, authorities have urged stakeholders to get their facts straight before making any demands.

“From the moment that some claim there is an increased number of visitors to the occupied territories, we need to have numbers; we cannot limit ourselves to estimates,” Deputy Minister of Tourism Costas Koumis told Kathimerini.

Hermes Airports, the operators of the island’s airports, told Kathimerini that a survey revealed that 4% of arrivals in April were heading for accommodation in the north.

They were mainly tourists from Israel, Poland, and Slovakia.

Koumis said the government needs evidence from stakeholders proving that occupancy rates of hotels in the Republic have been impacted by tourist flows to the north.

He is currently investigating the matter, pointing out that there are still no concrete figures for this year, arguing that hard data is needed for the government to take action.

Famagusta hoteliers, however, are convinced they are losing out, comparing occupancy rates of their hotels to those in the Paphos district, which are reportedly performing better.

Famagusta CHA chair, Panayiotis Constantinou, said hotel occupancy rates are significantly lower than expected based on increased arrivals.

Constantinou argued for the need to prepare a study to draw conclusions so stakeholders can start planning how to handle the issue.

Currently, hotels in Famagusta, as reported by CHA, are preferred by tourists from the UK, Poland, and Israel.

The Tourism Minister said that despite any possible losses to the north, Cyprus tourism is on an upward trend compared to previous years.

According to Hermes Airports, in the first six months of the year, 3.2 million passengers travelled through Larnaca airport, and 1.55 million used Paphos airport.

In total, 4.8 million passengers (inbound and outbound) passed through a Cypriot airport, 122,000 more than in Pre-COVID 2019.

According to the CHA, hotel occupancy rates in June averaged around 70%, with the best-performing hotels reporting an 85% occupancy.