By Peter Stevenson
The future for tourism on the island is very bright and 2014 is expected to be a better year than 2013 in both tourist arrivals and income according to chief of the Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO) Alecos Orountiotis.
Speaking during a workshop organised by the CTO titled ‘Extending the tourist period and dealing with seasonal tourism’ Orountiotis said it was one of the organisation’s most important initiatives that could solve many problems.
“We believe the time has finally come for all those involved to come together and solve the problems surrounding winter tourism,” he said.
Orountiotis added that the conclusions drawn from the workshop will be promoted to become the theme of winter tourism’s national strategy and be implemented as a national policy for the government.
One of the biggest problems, according to the CTO chief, regarding the lack of tourist arrivals during the winter months has to do with a lack of routes to Cyprus.
Transport Minister Tasos Mitsopoulos met representatives from the Association of Cyprus Tourist Enterprises (STEK) last month to discuss upgrading tourism and the liberalisation of flights for the whole of 2014.
He gave assurances that the ministry was trying to promote an open-skies policy, especially with countries that contribute substantially to tourism on the island like Russia and Israel.
“The ministry has succeeded in completely liberalising flights with Ukraine but efforts are continuing to try and attract new airlines to Cyprus,” he said.
The statistical service said on Monday that tourist arrivals rose 6.7 per cent year-on-year in September as total arrivals in the first nine months were down by around 3.0 per cent.
Tourist arrivals fell 3.3 per cent in the first nine months of the year to 1,995,446 compared with 2,064,118 in the same period last year.
Commenting on the statistics, Orountiotis said that tourism “is a stable and secure pillar of the economy” adding that “the future for tourism is very bright”.
Orountiotis said he believes that with everyone’s help there could be even more tourist arrivals on the island next year, resulting in more income.
“Tourism is entering an upward trajectory which our economy is in great need of,” he said.
CTO director-general Marios Hannides said the subject of extending the tourist period has been fruitlessly discussed at length for the last 20 years.
“Following the CTO’s initiative we have completed a comprehensive study, which has clearly shown what the problems are and what has caused the failure to attract winter tourism,” he said.
Public and private sector officials participated in the workshop and they were briefed by the CTO regarding the fall in tourist arrivals in winter.
Information was also given out to tour operators regarding opportunities to exploit Cyprus’ advantages in order to help restore winter tourism.
“Strategic planning to address seasonality in tourism is the leading goal of the CTO Tourism Strategy 2011-2015, and commitment of the government towards the Troika,” a CTO statement said.
By Peter Stevenson