By Constantinos Psillides
THE CYPRUS Tourism Organisation (CTO) was forced to apologise this week after some of the photographs used in a ‘successful’ campaign at the end of last year were deemed offensive.
The CTO removed the disputed photos, which critics said suggested that Cyprus was not a tourist destination fit for children and was insulting to parents.
“As determined by a probe I requested … the specific campaign was executed and completed … with huge success,” CTO director Marios Hannides said on Friday.
The photos caused an uproar after they were spotted on the organisation’s Facebook page.
Hannides said the photos received around 470,000 likes, exceeding the target of 400,000, and were seen by over 3.5 million people inside one month.
He did concede however that four of the 100 photos posted on the internet “were not the best”.
One of the images juxtaposes two photographs – one showing a child crying and the other showing a woman frolicking on a beach, with the caption “Holidays with kids” and “Holidays without kids.”
Another features two children bothering their parents and compares it with a photograph of two adults kissing on the beach, with the same caption.
The photos received a large number of negative comments, with people demanding the campaign be discontinued.
“So you people are asking parents with kids not to bring them here? This is a disgrace!” said one Facebook user, reflecting outrage over the campaign.
Another user pointed out that one of the images on the page, that featured a black and white photo of a woman ironing next to a photo of the same woman in colour enjoying a drink, was “disturbingly sexist”.
The marketing campaign’s theme is that vacationing in Cyprus is a welcome escape from the humdrum hassles of everyday life.
CTO officials weren’t too happy over the criticism, saying on Friday that it was just a couple of pictures out of more than a hundred that were used for the campaign.
“Some people were fixated on those photos, ignoring the rest,” officials said.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a source told the Sunday Mail that the campaign cost the Cyprus Tourist Organisation €70,000.
The campaign included online marketing, ads in foreign newspapers and magazines, and billboards.
It started in November and ended on December 31.
Two photos suggesting a holiday without kids was better still remained on the page on Friday https://www.facebook.com/LoveCyprus?fref=ts.They juxtaposed a photo of a woman lying on a beach with a child flinging a bucket of water over her, next to one of the same woman enjoying the beach in peace with a cold drink next to her.
One reader wrote: “Bring your kids to Cyprus. Please ignore this idiot (Cyprus Tourism Organisation) who ‘thought’ of this ‘ad.’
Another man disagreed, seeking to explain how he viewed the photos.
“Do you see anywhere don’t bring your kids to Cyprus?..It says how vacation is with kids and without kids. Just try and think the meaning of the ad and don’t call people idiots just because you read in a newspaper article.”
Between January and November 2013, 2,350,576 people visited the island, a decrease of 2.5 per cent relative to the previous year’s corresponding period.
Tourism revenue reached of 1.95 billion euros until November 2013, compared with 1.92 billion euros for the whole of 2012.
President Anastasiades appointed Costas Kadis as the new chairman of the Cyprus Tourist Organisation, two weeks ago.
Kadis was a former minister of the Tassos Papadopoulos administration where he served as minister of health from July 2007 to February 2008.