Cyprus Mail

More visitors expected in coming winter season

By Peter Stevenson 

AROUND 150,000 more tourists are expected to visit Cyprus during the coming winter compared to last year’s, Transport Minister Tasos Mitsopoulos said yesterday.

He said this has been achieved through an incentive programme to attract more visitors during the winter months.

Mitsopoulos was speaking after a meeting with local authorities, businessmen and members of the Paralimni tourist board yesterday.

He said a number of issues were discussed including the liberalisation of flights.

“We have made a lot of progress and this during the winter season, after implementing an incentive programme, we expect 150,000 more tourists to come to Cyprus,” Mitsopoulos said.

He added that efforts were being made to attract more airline companies, especially from Russia, to Cyprus by liberalising flights.

Representatives from the Hoteliers Union PASYXE and the Tourist Enterprises Association yesterday met DISY chief Averof Neophytou as part as series of tourism-related meetings marking World Tourism Day.

“Inspired by the need for qualitative tourism product it’s time to move into action and to promote concrete measures. Firstly we need to implement an open skies policy, we need to provide incentives for construction and restorations to take place and thirdly if we want tourism to be a driving force of the economy then we must increase capacity at hotels and extend the tourist season,” Neophytou said.

Despite the economic crisis, Europe remains one of the favourite destinations. International tourist arrivals in Europe grew by 5 per cent during the first half of this year, with best results recorded in Central and Eastern Europe and Southern and Mediterranean Europe. During the first six months of the year, Spain was still the most popular destination, followed by Italy, France, Austria, Germany, Greece and the UK, but eastern countries such as Lithuania, Slovakia and Latvia also recorded substantial growth. Cyprus expects to end the year with a drop of 4.0 per cent.

Meanwhile travel giants TUI Travel UK will be holding their annual conference in Cyprus November 3 and 6. The conference will be held in Ayia Napa and around 1,000 people will participate.

There was some negative news regarding tourism yesterday however. According to the Daily Mail families face paying more for their holidays after a ruling handed down by the European Court in Luxembourg.

The decision by the EU’s Court of Justice affects the complex way VAT on travel is calculated on package holidays within the EU. It is believed certain tax exemptions are set to be abolished, forcing tour operators to pass on the higher costs to holidaymakers.

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