The ultimate goal for the island’s tourism industry is to be ranked in the world’s top 30 countries, deputy minister of Tourism, Savvas Perdios said on Tuesday.

Outlining the National Tourism Strategy 2030, he said it foresees establishing Cyprus as an all-season, high quality, digitally intelligent and accessible tourist destination, that respects the environment and channels the benefits of tourism across the island.

In the 2020-2022 period, the minister said 95 per cent of the National Tourism Strategy has been implemented despite the pandemic and the war in Ukraine.

An important achievement was the establishment of a new tourist brand name for Cyprus, he said, “it is no longer the island of sun and sea”, but is promoted as a destination with history, culture and authentic experiences all-year round.

In the same three years, the connectivity of Cyprus, both by sea and by air, has improved, he added. Cruise companies became active in Cyprus, using Cyprus as a home port, while in 2022 cruise ship passenger arrivals increased to 350,000 people, from 130,000 in 2019.

In addition, new air routes were introduced, to Europe and the Middle East, while new routes to France, Belgium and Switzerland are expected in the near future.

Perdios said the current connectivity of Cyprus is at the same levels as 2019, despite the fact that routes from Russia and Ukraine are not currently included.

New destinations, such as France, Italy, Hungary, Serbia and Saudi Arabia have been added to the existing markets of Germany, Poland, Israel, Scandinavian countries, the Netherlands, Greece, Austria, Switzerland and Jordan, he said, adding that 40 per cent of arrivals come from the EU, compared to 25 per cent before the pandemic.

Perdios said future cooperation with Jordan aims to attract distant markets like the USA, Canada, Korea, Japan, China through joint tourist packages.

According to the minister, before the pandemic, tourism was dependent on tour operators with individual travellers accounting for 30 per cent, while today these numbers have become 50-50, which he said is “healthy for the market”.

Cyprus is currently ranked 31st out of 117 countries in the Travel and Tourism Development Index of the World Economic Forum, 21st out of 43 in Europe and 6th out of 16 in the Mediterranean. The goal is for Cyprus to rank among the top 30 markets worldwide and among the top 20 in Europe.

To achieve this, Cyprus must improve its public transport as well as speed up visa procedures for entry from third countries. Perdios indicated these issues have been the subject of communication with the foreign ministry and transport ministry.

In addition, price competitiveness also needs improvement, with the minister noting that what we want is not a reduction in prices, but an improvement in product quality.

He further noted that the Russian market now inevitably occupies a much smaller percentage in the ministry’s goals until 2030.

While in the 2020 targets the Russian market had the second largest share after the UK, in the revised 2022 targets its share is no different from the rest of the markets apart from the UK.

Perdios reiterated that the EU markets are now the target for further development of the Cypriot tourism product, including a large increase in the coming period from the Polish market.