Implementing a national strategy on tourism until 2030 could attract more than 5 million tourists per year, head of Cyprus’ association of travel agents (Acta) said on Wednesday.
Speaking during Acta’s annual general conference, Dinos Kakouras said the strategy would make Cyprus a destination for tourists all year round.
Energy Minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis said a public consultation for the strategy is set to take place at the beginning of October and would aim to get input from specialised services, local communities, business persons and any other interested parties.
He hailed figures that showed a 66 per cent increase in winter tourism between 2013 – 2014 and 2016 – 2017, and heralded a series of major projects that have been undertaken such as the casino, marines, golf courses and liberalising flights opening up to new markets.
Lakkotrypis said Acta had a crucial role to play in Cyprus’ tourism growth, particularly after the 32 per cent increase in tourist arrivals between 2013 and 2016, yielding €2.4bn last year.
He called on the association to exert its influence so as to push parliament to vote in favour of a bill that would allow the creation of an undersecretary for tourism.
Kakouras said 2017 is a landmark year for Cyprus’ tourism and that the total income for the first six months was close to €1bn, a 19.9 per cent increase compared with the same period last year.
Russian and British tourists made up 58 per cent of the market, a smaller figure than in previous years whereas Israeli tourist numbers increased by 82 per cent, Swedish by 17 per cent, German by 58 per cent and Austrian by 50 per cent, he added.
Calling for the creation of a national strategy on tourism, he said “tourism needs new initiatives.” “The aim of the national strategy is to make Cyprus, by 2030, a sustainable year -long tourism destination, which will have the ability to attract over 5 million tourists per year,” Kakouras said.
Chairman of Cyprus’ chamber of commerce (Keve) Phidias Pilides said long-standing problems in the industry needed to be resolved such as outdated hotel units, lack of flight connectivity with new markets, seasonal tourisms and a lack of quality infrastructure projects.
Brexit in the meantime, may create new challenges for the island’s tourism market, he said. Although there were no serious consequences this year, the expected drop in the value of the British pound will increase the cost of tourism packages in Cyprus which may lead to fewer visitors from the UK, Pilides told attendees at the meeting. Authorities must, in cooperation with industry professionals, plan, predict and take precautionary measures, he said.