The ongoing conflict in Gaza poses a significant threat to tourism in Cyprus, resulting in cancellations and reduced arrivals, particularly from Israel, president of the Hoteliers Association (Pasyxe) Thanos Michaelides said on Monday.
He stressed the need to turn toward other markets such as Germany, Poland, France and for the growth of the tourism market.
The ongoing conflict has also significantly impacted cruise routes in the region, affecting the tourism sector in general due to substantial cancellations, notably from the American market.
Michaelides said that the current situation will influence tourism from Israel not only this year, but also in the next ones to come.
“Even if the conflict ceases, it will likely leave some lasting effects,” he said.
A Cystat report released last week highlighted that arrivals from the United Kingdom constituted the primary source of tourism in October 2023, accounting for 36.2 per cent (154,373) of the total arrivals.
Arrivals from Germany accounted for 7.1 per cent (30,178), and arrivals from Poland amounted to 6.7 per cent (28,649).
Commercial flights to and from Israel have resumed after they were halted following the attack carried out on October 7.
Michaelides expressed the possibility that Israel might not remain Cyprus’ second most significant tourism source, adding that this presents a challenge.
With the loss of the Russian market, previously the second largest, and the potential decline in Israel’s position, he stressed the need for Cyprus to intensify efforts in markets with potential for growth.
“While people from Israel continue to make their way to Cyprus, many visitors stay only for a day or two and then move on to other countries,” he explained.
“This is why it is very important to nurture markets that have shown positive trends in recent years, such as Poland and France.”
Additionally, at a strategic level, he also suggested the development of the German market, citing the country as the largest economy in Europe and relatively closer in terms of distance compared to England, potentially allowing for more competitive ticket prices.
“We need to make Cyprus relevant in the German market, so we need substantial investments to attract tourists to Cyprus,” Michaelides added.
He then referred to recent studies conducted before an ongoing digital campaign, saying that, while German tourists visiting Cyprus are generally satisfied, their numbers are insufficient.
“We need to make ourselves more visible to turn the German market into a significant contributor to Cyprus’ tourism sector.
“The market holds great promise but needs substantial and long-term investment,” Michaelides concluded.