Tourists from Israel, Germany, Austria and Switzerland have shown an interest in holidaying in Cyprus this summer, Deputy Minister for Tourism Savvas Perdios said on Tuesday.
Speaking at the House commerce committee, he also said that on Wednesday the government will reveal its protocol for the reopening of hotels, slated for June 1.
After the meeting, committee chairman Andreas Kyprianou expressed his optimism about the upcoming summer and said the government’s main goal is to keep the tourism industry alive and sustainable.
“We need to be ready to see fewer profits in 2020, but the work we are putting in and the strategies we are developing will serve us well for next year, when we are foreseeing a touristic boom in the country,” Kyprianou said.
“We must all work together to improve our product, our tourism is the locomotive of the Cypriot economy.”
Following an announcement last Friday that commercial flights from a select number of countries with low coronavirus infection rates would resume in June to jumpstart tourism, Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos has said the government is considering offering a subsidy to airlines to bring in more passengers.
For now, the plan under consideration will be offered only to scheduled airlines and not to charter carriers, he told Politis on Monday. The state would subsidise 40 per cent of the aircraft occupancy with the calculation made on a per-passenger basis.
Forty per cent is well below the figure at which a flight becomes profitable; the so-called ‘breakeven load factor’ for major airlines is 79 per cent for Europe, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
But, with the Cyprus government subsidy assuring a large part of a flight’s capacity, airlines would be able to offer substantial discounts to other passengers to fill up the plane – or such is the current thinking.
Tourism experts agree that discounting is going to be the prime factor in determining the choice of tourist destination after the lockdown.
“When this thing is over there is going to be such massive discounting going on that there will be a large spike upward in travel and tourism for a period of time,” Ryanair Chief Executive Michael O’Leary told Reuters last Wednesday.
The government’s goal is to see at least 30 per cent of the 2019 arrival figures.
Last year, around 4 million tourists visited the country with the total revenue estimated at €2.6 billion.
Kyprianou and Perdios confirmed that the target was to bring in at least one million tourists and around €800 million in revenue by the end of the year.
Perdios said the tourism ministry has identified four courses of action aimed at promoting foreign tourism to Cyprus.
The first will be establishing contact with several European countries by sending a letter to their leaders promoting tourism signed by Perdios, Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos and Foreign Minister Nicos Christodoulides.
The second phase will involve organising a teleconference between Perdios and the tourism ministers of the targeted countries and to send them promotional material, which will constitute the third phase.
The fourth will involve promoting Cyprus’ tourism industry in foreign media outlets through newspaper interviews and TV appearances.
During Tuesday’s House committee, Akel MP Costas Costas called on the government to provide incentives aimed at promoting domestic tourism and on hoteliers to reduce their prices so they can attract Cypriot tourists.
He also added that Akel asked airport operator Hermes to reduce the airport fees in order to attract more foreign tourists.
Diko MP Angelos Votsis added the tourism industry should be a government priority and said that “pleasant surprises in the number of tourists visiting Cyprus this summer should not be ruled out.”