By Annette Chrysostomou
CONFERENCE tourism has continued to develop rapidly and Cyprus is now ranked 49th place worldwide in the industry and 27th in Europe, contributing €40 million to the local economy.
“The main product that Cyprus has in this field are the hotels offering conference facilities,” Nicoletta Paphitou from the Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO) said on Monday, commenting on the ranking by the World International Congress and Convent Association.
“Most hotels, mainly the four and five star hotels, can accommodate all types of conferences,” the CTO official told the press. Extra revenue comes from participants who spend a considerable amount of money in the Cypriot market outside of the conferences themselves.
According to the CTO, Cyprus offers much for incentive travel not only because of its climate but also due to the wide range of special interest which it provides. For example, Paphitou explained, a group may come for an incentive trip with the programme including outdoor activities or tours to archaeological sites.
It is important that all districts have hotels with conference facilities she said. “Due to the small size of the island, for large conferences we often work with more than one district as we did with the EU presidency [in 2012]. A meeting can be held in Nicosia, but beds in Larnaca can easily be used,” the official explained.
In addition, the ‘Philoxenia’ Convention Centre in Nicosia which continues to be managed by the CTO has rooms and equipment that can meet most of the needs of a conference.
“The convention centre enriches the existing product. It is a place that is well equipped and the number of events it attracts show that the centre fills a gap. It continues, however, to need more extensive grounds which we will handle,” Paphitou said.
She added that conference tourism has multiple benefits. A delegate who comes to Cyprus may bring a companion who will go shopping and see the sights, automatically doubling revenues.
According to the official, congress tourism has taken an upswing in recent years. “Every year a private company is entrusted to collect statistics of congress tourism, which are presented to the industry and published on the organisation’s website. Our goal for 2014 was to have a three per cent increase from 2013 when we had 317 conferences. Our assessment is that we are within the targets. For this year, we have received several requests for incentive plans, so this is a positive sign. ”
Concluding, she explained that the CTO has a multifaceted action plan for the development of this sector. The organisation has six different plans for incentives to support organisers.
By Annette Chrysostomou