Cyprus Mail

Tourism ministry to contract ‘mystery shoppers’ for hotel sector

SECRET checks and assessments will be carried out at hotels throughout the island, the deputy ministry of tourism announced on Wednesday.

The preliminary announcement details how Cyprus is seeking to attract premium tourists and increase the sector’s contribution to the economy. There also appears to be a focus on improving the sustainability of the sector, speaking of “Value for Money” initiatives.

“Premium” tourism has been a long-stated goal for many tourist hubs in Cyprus, especially places like Ayia Napa. However, many of these hotspots have become worldwide brands for cheap holidays – offering copious amounts of sun, alcohol and bad tattoos.

In recent years however, Ayia Napa has seen a flourishing of fancy restaurants and hotels.

The announcement also repeatedly mentions “fierce competition” in the Mediterranean region, from both old and new destinations.

In an effort to keep up with the pace of the changing industry, the ministry seeks to “improve the competitiveness of the destination, by upgrading the tourism product and experience,” it said.

Tenders will be launched, and the chosen company will carry out professional “mystery shopping” which aims to test a business’ quality of service. A person from the company will act as a customer and rate their experience based on pre-determined criteria to rank the various hotels.

They hope to achieve these goals by asking the company to issue star rating reviews which will place hotels in different categories and will be valid for three years.

If a business receives “unsatisfactory” rating of over 15 per cent in the various sub-categories then the hotel will be downranked.

The ministry currently plans to launch tenders in February, with an estimated value of around €300,000.

Meanwhile, tourist arrivals in Cyprus reached a new record in September, with 524,707 travellers compared with 520,138 in September 2018.

According to the statistical service, arrivals rose 0.9 per cent and were the highest ever recorded during the month of September.

More than 75 per cent of the island’s hotels and 38 per cent of the island’s recreation centres operated without a licence last year, MPs heard in October.

Tourism authorities said a new law gives them a grace period of five years to obtain prerequisite permissions such as building permits.

According to Auditor-general Odysseas Michaelides during a meeting of the House watchdog committee, which discussed the latest audit office report on the now-defunct Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO), by the end of last year only 59 of the 243 hotels, or 24 per cent had their operating licences renewed for 2018.

This means the vast majority, 76 per cent, did not. The reason was due to their failure to meet the requirements of the relevant legislation.


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