As Cyprus on Tuesday announced an all-time high in arrivals during August, hoteliers and other industry players sounded the alarm over the possibility of a hard Brexit and how it would affect the island’s tourism, especially as the UK remains the main source of visitors to Cyprus.
The comments from hoteliers came as the UK’s Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay is due to have a round of contacts at the highest level in Cyprus on Wednesday to discuss Britain’s exit from the EU.
Haris Loizides, the chairman of the Cyprus Hotel Association (Pasyxe) said on Tuesday that bookings from the UK had virtually stopped due to the situation being in a state of flux.
“There are no more bookings for 2020,” he told CNA. “The British market, which is also the biggest for Cyprus’ tourism, is going through one of its biggest crises,” he added.
Asked about the prospects for 2020, Loizides said that there was already immense pressure to lower the prices. He said however that he could not predict the full impact for next summer just yet.
According to Loizides, studies measuring the possible impact of Brexit on the industry were conducted a year ago, but they needed to be updated in light of the latest developments on Brexit.
He also said that Pasyxe was taking part in information gatherings, in cooperation with the British High Commission and the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry, in order to complete a round of contacts with various bodies before drawing up a final action plan.
The association is in constant contact with the deputy ministry of tourism and the foreign ministry, as well as major tour operators in the UK, in order to predict potential problems that may arise, Loizides concluded.
Akis Vavlitis, the president of the Association of Cyprus Tourist Enterprises (Stek) that represents mainly four and five-star hotels said a no-deal Brexit would not just affect Cyprus, but also other major tourist destinations, such as Spain, Greece, Italy and France.
“Everything depends on how Britain leaves the EU and what the climate will be in the first months after Brexit,” Vavlitis said. He added that “the situation was in flux” and that compared to last year, the British market was subdued.
He also said that trends in hotel reservations ahead of the next season would become more obvious from November onwards, when people in Britain usually start booking their holidays. The major tourist fair in London, in the beginning of November, will also provide an indication of what to expect, Vavlitis said.
Meanwhile, figures released on Tuesday by the statistical service showed that tourist arrivals reached a new record in August 2019 with an increase of 3.6 per cent compared with August 2018.
According to the statistical service, arrivals reached 553,845 during the month compared with 534,847 in August 2018. August 2019 had the highest volume of tourist arrivals ever recorded in Cyprus during the specific month.
For the period January – August 2019 arrivals totalled 2,735,839 compared with 2,719,622 in the corresponding period of 2018, an increase of 0.6 per cent, also a record for the period.
Arrivals from the UK increased by 1 per cent in August 2019 compared with August 2018 while an increase of 1.8 per cent was recorded in tourists from Russia and 23.6 per cent from Israel. A decrease of 0.2 per cent in arrivals from Sweden and 14.2 per cent from Germany were also recorded.
The UK was the main source of tourism for Cyprus in August 2019, accounting for 33.6 per cent of arrivals, while Russia comprised 20.9 per cent of total arrivals, Israel 9.4 per cent and Sweden 3.7 per cent.
Meanwhile, the percentage of Cyprus residents returning from a trip abroad in August 2019 fell 6.1 per cent, or 173,81 compared with 184,285 in August 2018.
There was also a decrease of 15.6 per cent in trips to Greece in August 2019 , which stood at 63,603 compared with 75,321 August 2018. The percentage of Cyprus residents travelling to the UK in August this year was also down 7.2 per cent, numbering 15,769 compared with 17,000 the same month last year. Around four million tourists visited Cyprus last year.
(Information sourced from the Cyprus News Agency)