Wedding tourism is a fast-expanding business, but a great deal more can be done to further grow the market, MPs heard on Tuesday.
During a discussion at the House commerce committee, stakeholders from the tourism industry floated a number of ideas aimed at expanding and improving the island’s wedding tourism product.
Cyprus Tourism Organisation (Cto) official Lygia Theodorou said some 8,000 civil weddings take place on the island every year, with 5,000 booked from the United Kingdom.
Couples to be wed are often accompanied by family and friends, who stay here for at least seven to 10 days, spending cash on shopping, photography and decorations.
Other than the UK, a great deal of interest comes from Lebanon, Israel and the United Arab Emirates.
Theodorou said efforts were underway to make inroads into the Indian, Chinese and Japanese markets.
However, she conceded the industry is hampered by various shortcomings – such as that several weddings are held at the same time and venue.
There is moreover a lack of venues, limited knowledge of the English language, and fees are not uniform.
Chrysaimili Psilogeni, director of the Association of Cyprus Tourist Enterprises (Stek) noted that more could be done to tap the markets of the Far East.
The top destinations worldwide for wedding tourism are the Maldives, the Seychelles, Greece and Turkey.
At the same time, some countries are promoting gay marriages, but this is a market which “we in Cyprus are still wary of,” Psilogeni said.
Another Stek official pointed out that revenue is being lost due to municipalities’ inability to confirm more than two wedding bookings on the same day.
Another problem is the lack of authorised functionaries.
MPs asked the Cto to take on board the proposals aired and to come back in two weeks’ time with a strategy on how to further expand the market.
The tourism industry recently got a boost following a three-year deal between British travel group TUI UK and BookYourWeddingDay.com, a Cypriot-based innovative online platform for civil wedding bookings.