Cyprus Mail

Pilot programme to boost tourism

Three airlines will promote Cyprus as part of a €2 million pilot programme, undersecretary to the President Constantinos Petrides said on Tuesday.

Speaking after a House commerce committee, he said 25 per cent of the money came from the state, 50 per cent from private airlines and 25 per cent from Cyprus airports operator Hermes.

The decision was taken in conjunction with the ministers of transport, finance and commerce to emulate other countries in a bid to boost tourism to the country, Petrides said.

“As a government, we could have been content with the fact that we have the best tourism results as far as arrivals and income is concerned for the past 15 years. Problems that were seen on an international level or the closing down of Cyprus Airways have been completely dealt with,” he told MPs at the House committee.

“We recognise that tourism is suffering from ills and could have a much larger contribution to Cyprus’ economy.”

He outlined the state was going to look into problems in the industry such as bureaucracy, laws and regulations that were a deterrent to the sector’s growth.

Problems were created because there was never a national strategy for tourism implemented by the Cabinet to address infrastructure, development, regional planning and different branding, with a large focus on marketing.

At present, he said, there is no doubt bureaucracy is a major problem as half of hotels are without licences and different state departments demanding the same types of licenses that are a financial burden.

Committee chairman Zacharias Zachariou said “we are not satisfied with 2.5 million tourists in Cyprus,” as across the world there was a 60 per cent increase in tourism spending while there was no change on the island.

Expressing his satisfaction over the creation of a national strategy that would also involve the Cyprus Tourist Organisation and the private sector, he said Cyprus had the possibility to gain much more income from tourism than what it received today.

AKEL MP Costas Costa said he had serious concerns over the fact that Hermes – a private company – was involved in a state project that was responsible for taxpayer’s money.

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