By Andria Kades
THE tourism industry is expected to receive some €50m in investments this year through a government scheme aimed at extending the island’s tourism season, Tourism and Energy minister George Lakkotrypis said on Friday.
Addressing the Hotel Managers’ Association annual general meeting, he hailed last year’s tourism performance, calling it a “strong end” to 2015, stressing that efforts to boost the quality of service need to continue.
Bearing in mind international events “such as the closure of Russian airline Transaero, the fall in the rouble’s exchange rate against the Euro and the increasing instability in the broader region,” Lakkotrypis said, “2015 is rightfully ranked amongst our strongest years in tourism, with results close to those of 2001, our reference point for the best performance.”
By November, an 8.2 per cent increase in tourism was recorded compared to the same period last year, while the first indications for December arrivals seem positive, he added.
Detailing a funding scheme set to be implemented by the Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO), Lakkotrypis said it would be launched within the first few months of 2016 and is expected to contribute to €50m in investments.
Efforts are being undertaken to boost Cyprus’ air connectivity with as many countries as possible and a process is underway to simplify entrance procedures for countries such as China and boosting infrastructure, notably golf resorts, marinas and the casino.
At the moment, he said his ministry is preparing a study to create a national strategy for tourism.
CTO vice chairman Kostas Koumis expressed his certainty that upcoming statistics will reveal tourism arrivals exceeded the 2.6 million recorded in 2000 and 2001.
These are attributed to increases from markets such as the UK which for the first time since 2011, hit the one million mark, and the German market that saw a 34 per cent increase.
Nevertheless, the Scandinavian and Russian markets had fallen. “They need to be assessed differently as the 19.9 per cent fall until October was the smallest recorded in Europe,” Koumis said.
Although competition has skyrocketed, Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry vice chairman Andreas Matsis said tension between Russia and Turkey, the political crisis in the Middle East, the fall of a Russian aircraft in Egypt and the devaluation of the sterling against the euro would factor in to help Cyprus’ tourism industry.