By Angelos Anastasiou
THE Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO) must change its structures and processes in order to meet modern standards and requirements, according to a KPMG report on restructuring and reorganising the organisation presented to staff yesterday.
Speaking after the event, CTO head Marios Hannides said the organisation needs to modernise its decision-making processes and their implementation, as well as improve efficiency in terms of public service.
Hannides said the Auditor General’s recommendations concerning the organisation have been considered and led to specific decisions which are already being implemented along with “more general steps in the right direction.”
Auditor General Odysseas Michaelides had recently revealed irregularities in the operation of the CTO, including promotion contracts being assigned without inviting tenders, and urged the Tourism minister to involve himself in efforts to remedy the distortions observed.
Per KPMG’s recommendation, the CTO has performed a mass personnel movement across departments, in order to best exploit existing talent.
“Personnel mobility brings a breath of fresh air to the organisation, and the employees who have assumed their new posts as of yesterday [Thursday] will be able to guide the organisation into a new path, where it will be able to operate better, both for tourism and the economy,” said Hannides.
Beyond personnel changes, he added, procedures are being updated and modernised in order to meet current EU and state standards.
In terms of personnel allowances, the CTO boss said this was also included in the Auditor General’s report, but concerns the public service at large, noting that the same procedures were followed at the Foreign Affairs ministry, as well as other government departments.
He explained that what had been perceived as a problem at the CTO was the fact that local personnel operating out of other countries – Italy, England, Russia, and others – are on private-law contracts with the organisation, which are governed by host-country law.
“These cases are being examined with the organisation’s legal advisers so that a balance can be struck, where Cyprus regulations are enforced while respecting host-country laws,” he said.
Meanwhile, with regard to tourism prospects in the coming year, Hannides said that the Russian market presents “possible difficulties due to the Russian government’s VAT policy, as well as the unprecedented devaluation of the rouble against the euro.”
“There is no official estimate projecting any fall in tourism from Russia,” he said. “What we have is calculations by the CTO and tourism bodies in Cyprus, which indicate that the measures taken by the Russian government may bring a decrease in the Russian tourist current.”
Hannides noted that both the CTO and the Tourism minister recently met with Russian tourist agencies in order to be able to offer incentive schemes to travel agents, which could curtail the possible decline in arrivals from Russia.
But, he said, measures are being taken in case Russian tourism follows a negative trend.
“Parallel to supporting the British and Russian markets, we are also moving to alternatives like the cooperation with large German tourist agencies to develop the German market, as well as the Scandinavian countries which have supported our economy for a decade after the Turkish invasion,” Hannides said.
The CTO head said that the prospects of cooperation with Arab countries are favourable due to the organisation’s efforts in recent years to establish flights from Arab countries to Cyprus.