By Andria Kades
THE influx in tourism does not leave the market with more money as visitors are spending less, according to concerns raised by the Association of Cyprus Travel Agents (ACTA).
ACTA director Dinos Kakkouras said this trend was seen from several countries that visited the island and seemed likely to continue.
According to the latest figures by the Statistical Service, in February, there was a 12 per cent decrease in expenditure per person compared to the previous year despite the same increase in the number of arrivals.
“This troubles us. It is not only arrivals that are important but the income they leave. It is important to keep both arrivals and income high. All of this is due to the economic crisis that exists in different countries and of course we cannot choose which tourists we will bring,” Kakkouras said.
The fall in expenditure was seen mostly from Switzerland that slashed its spending from €1044 to €656 per person, while smaller decreases were seen from countries such as the US, Denmark, the Netherlands and Israel.
On the other hand, Finland more than doubled its expenditure by about 120 per cent to €1484 per person, while countries such as Sweden, France and the UK also increased spending.
Russia spent 5 per cent more this year at €947 per person despite its number of tourists expected to fall this summer. Figures had originally estimated a 25 to 30 per cent drop but an increase in bookings from Russia helped reduce the expected fall to 15 per cent.
“If the loss from Russian arrivals remains low, we are not sure it will be covered from markets that show an increase such as Britain and Germany,” Kakkouras said stressing that to boost Russian tourism, we should offer more flights to and from the country.
A major concern is that due to the change in the value of the rouble, packages are more expensive this year compared to last year.
“I do not share the optimism that this will be easily overcome. I see difficulties; it is not simply a case of numbers. Russians choose low-priced packages and those that come do not have buying power.” ACTA chairman Victoras Mantovanis said.
“Bringing large numbers but having three people sharing a beer in a bar does not help,” he added.
Cyprus Hotel Association chairman Haris Loizides said that it was too soon to reach conclusions over what will follow and there were no indications showing that the emerging pattern would follow in the same direction.