DESPITE several challenges including the collapse of Thomas Cook, this has been a very successful year for tourism, deputy minister for tourism, Savvas Perdios said on Thursday, expressing pride over the results.
Speaking to the House finance committee, the deputy minister said that the closure of the UK tour operator is not expected to affect arrivals next year since they have found ways to address the issue.
According to Perdios, his ministry has been working proactively for seven months and its officials have been touring Europe and the Middle East to ensure that any problems in the near future can be eliminated by opening up to other markets and other forms of tourism.
Already, he said, there has been a 25 per cent increase in arrivals from Israel this year, and almost 30 per cent from Ukraine.
“We also expect an increase of around 20 per cent from Germany next year, since we have announced the agreement with Condor airlines, so we will not be affected next year by the British market,” Perdios said.
Despite the closure of Cobalt, Air Berlin, Germania and Thomas Cook, instability due to Brexit and competition from Turkey, Egypt and Tunisia, he said “tourism arrivals remain at around the same levels as last year.”
“Under other circumstances we may have been talking about tremendous reductions today, however, the truth is that we are on the same level as last year, slightly higher on arrivals and slightly lower on revenue, but nothing to worry about,” he said.
Tourism in Cyprus stands strong, he said. “We should be proud of what we have achieved.”
The minister also said that efforts are underway for openings to the American market in cooperation with Israel as part of efforts to develop joint tourist packages with neighbouring countries.
“Israel believes we can start immediately,” he said, adding that there is already agreement at political level.
“Connectivity between Cyprus and Israel is very common and since Israel is linked to 50 flights a week to the US, it means it is now a matter of promoting packages so that we can bring Americans to Cyprus as well,” he said.
On actions to reduce the flow of tourists to the north, Perdios said his ministry does not provide any form of assistance and has no cooperation with tourist agents who send people there.
Perdios said his ministry’s budget for 2020 is €50m, most of which will be spent on promoting Cyprus abroad either through advertising campaigns or partnerships with airlines, travel organisers, etc.
He also said that they would present the new national strategy on tourism at the beginning of next year.