By Jean Christou
All-inclusive hotel holidays, especially in Paphos, have become a reality in Cyprus but pose risks for the sustainability of tourism, deputy director general of the Cyprus Tourism Organisation Annita Demetriades said on Tuesday.
Demetriades was speaking in Nicosia during the presentation of a study by PwC on the effects of all-inclusive deals in Paphos on the wider industry in the area. The majority of hotel beds in Paphos are all-inclusive.
“A large number of hotels are offering all-inclusive holidays but negative economic and social effects have been observed in the local community at entertainment establishments, supermarkets, souvenir shops and for excursions,” she said.
Tourists limited to hotels do not have the opportunity to wander around and enjoy the cultural wealth, to experience the diversity of the country and the real hospitality of its inhabitants, elements that give our country a very important competitive advantage that should be maintained.”
Demetriades said that after meetings with all stakeholders in Paphos it was decided to implement specific actions in collaboration with several hotels in the town, which she said were committed to supporting the effort.
“A key action will be the ‘Ambassador’ programme where each hotel will have an ‘Authentic Corner’ onsite with the logo ‘Destination Paphos’ which will be awarded to companies that meet specific criteria,” she said.
This area of the hotels will inform guests what is on offer outside of the hotel complex “with the expectation that the implementation of these actions will contribute to reducing the negative effects we have observed,” she added.
PwC representatives Giorgos Ioannou and Panayiotos Moiras revealed that one of the most important findings of the survey, carried out with the Travel Foundation UK, was that tourists staying in Paphos spend less money on activities or at shops outside of the hotel compared to other tourist areas in Cyprus.
To improve the above situation, the CTO, the Cyprus Association for Sustainable Tourism and the Travel Foundation UK, commissioned the Brighton Hospitality Research Group (BHR) from Brighton University, to further investigate the matter with a view to identifying incentives that could push tourists in Paphos to spend more money and time outside of the hotels.
According to the main conclusions of the study, it was found that among the tourists there was a lack of reliable information in relation to the activities they could engage in outside the hotel complex, and that businesses with something to offer found it was difficult to find a way of promoting what they had to offer.
The proposed logo ‘Destination Paphos’ is being designed with them in mind as tourists exposed to the logo in hotels can recognise and locate these businesses when they venture out.
Companies wishing to participate in this programme must however meet specific criteria developed for the purposes of the project after which they will receive the sign and logo to hang outside their place of business.
President of the Cyprus Association for Sustainable Tourism Philippos Drousiotis, in his address, said that recent developments in Cyprus made it clear that the importance of tourism to the island’s economy was now even more vital.
“It is now proven that tourists have become more demanding and seek experiences from their holidays that they will remember for a lifetime,” he said.
Through the project, he said, “we propose to develop and implement new initiatives that will encourage increased tourist spending in the local economy, increase customer satisfaction with the experience of holiday and increase repeat visits by helping to ensure the long term sustainability of Paphos as a tourist destination”.
He said 10 hotels had already joined up for the programme.
“The training included information about local products and activities that one can experience in Paphos, as well as an understanding of the importance of the destination,” he said.
“In Paphos, and all over Cyprus in general there is a need to ensure that tourists know the destination and what it has to offer them.”