Could Cyprus become a destination for those wishing to save money by spending the winter months away from home in a warmer place?
With revenue and arrivals up throughout 2022 compared to the difficult past two years marred by the Covid-19 pandemic, tourism in Cyprus seems to finally have turned a page.
Revenue from tourism was up 141 per cent between January and July 2022 compared to last year, totalling €1.217 billion, according to the statistical service.
For July 2022 the revenues reached €381 million compared to last year’s €245m, an increase of 55 per cent.
The service on Thursday detailed that this year’s January-July period reached 85 per cent of that compared to Cyprus’ record year in 2019.
Stakeholders are now aiming to maintain a steady number of arrivals throughout the upcoming winter months, traditionally a quiet period for tourism.
A helping hand could paradoxically arrive from the rising costs of living affecting the entire EU population, as people are facing huge bills in the winter.
Could Cyprus become a destination for those people, especially pensioners, wishing to save money by spending the winter months away from home in a warmer place?
According to Deputy Minister of Tourism Savvas Perdios, winter arrivals should be targeted through a different strategy.
“We have to attract people to Cyprus in a more positive and indirect way,” Perdios told the Sunday Mail. “We don’t want to draw people to the island by telling them we are cheaper, or we are Covid-free, that is not fair.”
Perdios said the aim of the deputy ministry and of people working in tourism industry is to create memories that will last a lifetime. Therefore, the approach to potential visitors in the winter needs to highlight different aspects of the island.
“We don’t want to take advantage of the difficult situation people are facing in Europe and in the world. We have to follow a consolidated strategy and avoid jumping on different bandwagons every year, whether is the Covid-19 pandemic or the war in Ukraine.”
Perdios said the good numbers registered in 2022 in terms of tourists’ arrivals are a product of several years of market research and targeting alternative countries.
“The lack of the Russian and Ukrainian markets is simply highlighting the good work we did over the past years in reaching out alternative markets and in setting out a successful national strategy for tourism.”
The ongoing war in Ukraine resulted in the loss of around 800,000 arrivals from Russia, the second largest market for Cyprus after the UK.
“Out of the 800,000 tourists lost from Russia and from Ukraine, we wanted to recover at least 200,000 from different countries across Europe,” the deputy minister said.
“We have now reached 160,000 so far, so we are on track to achieving our goal by the end of the year.”
Throughout the first eight months of 2022, arrivals from France doubled compared with 2019. At the same time, arrivals from Germany increased by 26 per cent, from Denmark by 70 per cent, from Italy by 52 per cent and from Austria by 57 per cent.
Perdios explained that, in order to attract tourists from countries that were not traditionally associated with Cyprus, improving the national product and the experiences was of paramount importance.
“The second step was to reach out to airlines and tour operators and that is what we did, which is reflected in the increasing number of flights to and from Cyprus from more and more countries across Europe and the Middle East. We had and still have to do as much as possible to give Cyprus’ tourism a chance of competing with other markets.”
The third step, which was one of the main pillars in the national tourism strategy 2030, was to market our country not just as a summer destination, but as a year-long one.
“This is a very important and very challenging point for us,” Perdios said. “We need to change people’s mindset when they think about Cyprus. We want them to be able to create memories all year round and not just during the summer months.
“And, looking at the number for this year, we have done quite well. We have more tourists from France, Italy, Germany, Switzerland and many other countries where people seek for more than just the seaside.”
The deputy minister cited the popularity of Cypriot villages with French visitors.
“We did not expect such a boom with French tourists, but hoteliers and business owners located in our villages have reported very good numbers, this is fantastic news.”
However, despite satisfactory arrivals’ rates, people working in the tourism industry have in the past months voiced their concerns ahead of what they predict to be a difficult 2023 in terms of foreign visitors.
Perdios confirmed that the gloomy outlook is a realistic scenario but remained upbeat.
“We expect difficulties for 2023, mostly due to the ongoing conflict and the general economic climate affecting the entire world.
“That said, we still need to plan ahead and to do it perfectly. We need to be prepared for every scenario. We already know that in all probability we will still have to deal with the lack of Russian and Ukrainian tourists,” he said.
But he said that despite the war and financial difficulties, people will still be willing to travel and to discover other countries.
“This year, we had more Google searches for Cyprus from European countries than in 2019, which was a record year for us. We need to build on that and make Cyprus an ideal choice for a holiday for everyone.”
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