Conference tourism rose 2.8 per cent in 2014 compared to the previous year but the sector is being stifled by the lack of an independent large convention centre, the Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO) said on Tuesday.
CTO Deputy Director General Annita Demetriades, speaking at a presentation on conference tourism at the Filoxenia in Nicosia said they had already proposed the creation of a new centre and the process was underway.
According to a survey, in 2014, some 326 conferences were held in Cyprus compared to 317 in 2013. The 326 events in 2014 were attended by 28,438 participants. Some 46 per cent of the conferences were up to three days duration, 43 per cent from four to seven days, and more than seven days, 11 per cent.
Most conferences were held in May with 15 per cent, March and September each had 12 per cent, October and November 11 per cent each, April and June 10 per cent each, February 7 per cent, August 4 per cent, January and July each 3 per cent and December 2 per cent.
Seasonally, autumn saw 33 per cent of the conferences, winter 13 per cent, 37 per cent in the spring and 17 per cent for summer.
When it came to venues, 77 per cent of the conferences were held in hotels, 11 per cent in alternative areas, 3 per cent in academic institutions, and the remainder in various other places.
According to the survey, the main types of conferences were for medical, educational, sports, technological and scientific subjects, followed by marketing and communication, accounting and auditing.
The net income from conferences to the tourism industry is around €40m per year, excluding receipts outside the conference venues.
Demetriades said the fact that most conferences take place in autumn and spring, was a big help to tourism’s seasonality issues but more could be done in the sector, she said, adding that industry stakeholders had been informed of the plans for a convention centre, which will also include infrastructure for conference tourism both outside and inside the venue and other venues, particularly hotels. EU funding of some €16m would be available, she added.
Demetriades told CNA: “Cyprus has conferences but we are excluded from hosting big because we do not have large convention centres to bring this scale of conferences and that is why there is a need for such a center but it depends on private investors.”
Other issues affecting conference tourism, she added were a dearth of flights, the availability of tourist beds for really big events, and the current financial crisis.
The CTO has drawn up six different scenarios and plans to see how the needs of the conference tourism sector could be met and the best way to attract the widest range of conferences, meetings and incentive e visits.