By Bejay Browne
TOURIST arrivals from the British market look set to increase in Paphos by as much as 15 per cent next summer, the first time in a number of years, according to industry experts.
However, the coming winter months will be difficult for the town, they warned.
Nasos Hadjigeorgiou, the manager of the Paphos regional board of tourism, said figures and feedback from tour operators show between a five to 15 per cent increase in projected UK arrivals for next year compared with the same period this year.
Cyprus successfully participated in the recent World Travel Market in London (WTM) – the leading global event for the travel industry, added Hadjigeorgiou.
“According to a variety of partners, planning for 2015 is showing an increase and that a number of the main tour operators in the UK market are expected to move upwards, with very good prospects of overturning the decline in recent years.”
The UK has traditionally been the main source of tourism for Cyprus, but visitor numbers have fallen away over the last few years.
“We have been a diminishing destination for this market for a while. However, the last couple of years saw numbers stabilise and with further investment, promotion and concerted efforts we plan to increase numbers next year.”
In addition, the tourism head noted that the favourable exchange rate of sterling, as well as some investment by tour operators in Paphos hotel properties would also aid in increasing numbers.
“They are showing commitment in the area,” he said.
Hadjigeorgiou said that with a number of new routes commencing in 2015 an enriched flight programme will also aid recovery.
“Even though it’s very early to predict what will happen, the indications are very good and positive, including the German markets.”
Seven new flights a week operated by airline Germania will connect Paphos with five German airports from March next year. These are: Dusseldorf, Berlin, Hamburg, Bremen and Erfurt.
In addition, low cost airline NIKI will begin twice weekly flights from Vienna to Paphos in the same month.
The Paphos tourism head said there were no indicators from the Nordic countries yet while the Russian market was unpredictable.
“Many of the Russian stakeholders haven’t finalised next season’s plans yet. The rouble exchange rate and a number of tour operators going bankrupt hasn’t helped, but we are remaining positive,” he said.
However, projections for the coming months show that due to a number of airlines stopping flights during the winter period, accessibility to Paphos will become an issue.
“We still have a chance to change that as during the last month of winter, March, flights will start and we will see programmes launching, hopefully this could save the winter period overall.”
The tourism head said that tour operators and airlines must view Paphos and Cyprus as an all year round destination.
He added that specialist tourism plays a major part in the local economy during the winter months, adding that this is a segment which needs further development and enrichment.
“Paphos does well in the winter from specialist markets including, long stays, athletes training, golf holidays and so on. We are developing related infrastructure to promote these areas; Paphos has the ability to do well all year round.”