Parliament on Tuesday passed a law establishing a junior ministry for tourism, scheduled to begin operating in January next year.
The government bill also provides for creating the position of an under-secretary to the president for tourism.
Ruling Disy inserted an amendment, which also passed, providing that the junior ministry start operating as of January 2, 2019, rather than the November 1, 2018 date cited in the government bill.
The government welcomed the development.
In a statement, deputy government spokeswoman Klelia Vasiliou called it a ‘milestone for boosting the tourism sector, a key pillar of the Cypriot economy’.
The establishment of the ministry would usher in the implementation of the national strategy for tourism that has been shaped over the last five years through consultations with all stakeholders, the statement said.
“The strategy includes clear targets and timetables which will lead to the upgrading and promotion of our tourist product.”
It added that, under political guidance, the new ministry will work to increase the industry’s ‘momentum’, yielding significant results in medium to long term – increased tourist arrivals, high-quality service, and tackling the problem of seasonality.
It is not entirely clear what the role of the Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO) will be once the ministry is launched.
But a trade union representing workers at the CTO released a statement also welcoming the creation of a ministry dedicated to tourism affairs. The statement suggested the semi-governmental organisation would be folded into the new ministry.
“We are certain that this decision shall give the organisation [CTO] the means necessary to evolve into a modern and stronger single agency for tourism, able to meet the requirements and expectations of the state,” it said.
From the discussion in the plenum preceding the vote, it emerged that the government’s intention is for all current CTO employees to be transferred to the new ministry.