The 2023 tourist season is set to surpass the record-breaking year of 2019 in terms of the number of foreign tourists. The numbers have been confirmed by the arrivals at our airports, as well as by the announcements of hoteliers, the Deputy Ministry of Tourism and so on.
In the Famagusta area, there has been an increase in the number of tourists of around 34 per cent and in income from tourism of 30 per cent compared to the previous year.
And yet, according to restaurateurs and leisure businesses, with some exceptions, there has been a drop in the number of tourists visiting these establishments. So where are tourists going?
I believe the main cause is all-inclusive holidays, which in addition to free food, also include free drinks.
Also, an unspecified, but large, number end up in the north of the island.
Another percentage stays in Airbnb-style units, both legal and not, which doesn’t help local businesses.
The defamation of the area due to criminal activities, such as the recent case of a British woman being raped, the beating of a Turkish Cypriot woman and others, may frighten tourists.
The expensive taxis and the restricted times that bus transportation is available are also discouraging, often trapping tourists in the area they are staying.
Fortunately, there is also domestic tourism, which is independent of public transport.
Famagusta has been seriously affected by the exodus of Russian tourists – a 70 per cent reduction in the post-embargo era – which is difficult to make up.
A big problem in the tourism sector is that many businesses do not provide quality services and create a depressing commercial picture, meaning that those that have the potential for success are also affected.
Newcomers to the entertainment business face a lot of challengers, despite the support they get from the local municipal authorities, which may reach the level of criminal cover up, like in the case of an illegal nightclub in Protaras that obtained a licence from both the municipality and the Deputy Ministry of Tourism in three days when it was exposed.
There is a confusion among tourists about where to go, with so much conflicting data.
And in the end the negative picture that is presented affects the real estate market.
It would be worthwhile to carry out a more in-depth study of the changing trends in the industry, such as the increase in the number of individual tourists as opposed to groups, and the time it takes for businesses to acquire commercial goodwill which is needed.
Perhaps newcomers to the local entertainment industry may need more funds to cope with the initial period of operation till they can build up a good name and clientele.
Antonis Loizou & Associates EPE – Real Estate Appraisers & Development Project Managers, www.aloizou.com.cy, [email protected]