Cyprus Mail

Tourism: it’s not just about the price, minister insists

54 per cent of holidaying British tourists could not point to Cyprus on a map

By Jean Christou

TOURISM MINISTER Giorgos Lakkotrypis said on Monday it was not the government’s strategy to compete with other destinations on price alone.

The minister was commenting in the wake of publication of a new British survey by the International Currency Exchange (ICE) putting Cyprus top of the list as the most expensive spot in Europe in terms of holiday spending.

ICE said that sterling’s increased strength against the euro might make the eurozone a good choice for the budget conscious. The US was also offering good value for UK travellers, it said.

Analysis of spending habits in euro countries compared to the US by ICE showed that visitors stateside tended to spend far less once they reached their destination.

ICE found £242 (€300) difference between the average spend on its prepaid currency card, the ICE Travellers Cashcard, in the US compared to the country where people spent the most – Cyprus.

“Cyprus proved to be the hardest on the pocket with expenditure on the ICE Travellers Cashcard amounting on average to £564.54,” the company said.

In contrast, holidaymakers to the US spent £322.51 on average for holiday essentials such as food, drink, transport and hotel tabs.

Greece featured alongside Portugal as a top spending location for UK holidaymakers, with average spends of £493.86 and £460.55 respectively.

Tom Johnson, Head of Online Business at ICE, said: “Visiting popular European destinations may be easier for travellers but this convenience can be offset against the price holidaymakers pay for essential items on holiday. Our research shows big savings can be made by travelling to the US or by choosing a holiday in Italy or Spain instead of Greece or Cyprus.”

Asked yesterday about the island’s competitiveness as a tourist destination, Lakkotrypis said it, along with the air accessibility issue, were the two most important issues for tourism.

He said the dearth of air transport would improve following the signing of agreements with various carriers, which would enter into force in 2015.

As far as price was concerned, he said: “Our strategy is not to compete based on price. Our strategy is to compete on the basis of the value of what is on offer. This is the reason we promote infrastructural projects such as golf courses, marinas and casinos.”

Lakkoptrypis said he was cautiously optimistic that both tourist arrivals and receipts in 2014 would increase, and from next year the situation would improve further when new airlines would begin operating and when the tourist season was lengthened and winter arrivals should receive a boost.

The statistics department yesterday reported that tourist arrivals in May 2014 totalled 293,181 compared to 276,244 in May 2013, an increase of 6.1 per cent.

May saw an increase of 2.4 per cent in arrivals from the UK and a 15.2 per cent increase from Russia. A decrease of 10.7 per cent was recorded in arrivals from Sweden, and a 2.4 per cent fall from Greece.

Cyprus Tourism Organisation Director General Marios Hannides said that so far this year total arrivals were up more than 3.0 per cent over the same period last year.

In the period January – May 2014, tourist arrivals totaled 637,617 compared with 615,916 in the corresponding period of 2013.

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