During a House finance committee meeting on Monday, Deputy Tourism Minister Costas Koumis revealed projections of record-breaking revenue close to €3 billion from tourism in 2023, while presenting the deputy ministry’s budget for 2024.
Koumis attributed the historically high revenue to the flow of tourists in September and October. The previous record was achieved in 2018 with €2.71 billion in tourist revenue.
Furthermore, Koumis said that Paphos is set to achieve year-round tourism soon, underlining Cyprus’ capacity to sustain approximately four million arrivals. However, concerns were raised about the impact on natural resources beyond this threshold.
The deputy minister highlighted a three-year allocation of €65 million for 2024, with an increased provision of €12 million for Ukrainian refugee protection needs.
He outlined that 50 per cent of the allocation focuses on destination promotion and enriching tourism products, such as informative campaigns, participation in exhibitions, and subsidy plans.
Regarding connectivity, Koumis pointed out a 21 per cent rise in tourism until October compared to the previous year, signalling a market expansion that reached levels last saw in 2019.
During the meeting, however, concerns were raised about potential challenges in maintaining good airline connections due to EU regulations becoming stricter to safeguard the environment and to increase sustainability.
Addressing seasonal extension, Koumis acknowledged the historical challenges of Cyprus as an island destination and the difficulties in extending the tourist season. While noting improvements in arrivals and revenues, he underlined the struggle to attract high numbers during between December and February, especially considering the significant drop in demand in central Europe.
He also highlighted the need for diversification beyond the “sun-and-sea” product and expressed optimism about Paphos’ imminent achievement of year-round tourism.
“Efforts towards digital enhancement in Paphos and the province have been positively received by travel organisers,” Koumis said.
The discussion then addressed ongoing efforts to address seasonality issues, and the need for a diversified product to sustainably extend the tourist season.
The head of the House committee and Dipa MP Christiana Erotokritou, expressed her party’s concern that the country is more focused on increasing tourist numbers “rather than concentrating on reducing the quantity but diversifying the quality.”
She highlighted the country’s limited resources to support millions of tourists, indicating this as a measure toward a greener approach to tourism.
Koumis agreed with Ms. Erotocritou, adding that for many years, the focus was placed solely on arrivals.
In response to a question from Akel MP Yiannis Gavriel about extending the tourist season in the Famagusta district, Koumis mentioned that Ayia Napa is “in a better position” due to its connection to the highway.
“Protaras, being a separate entity from Paralimni, faces greater challenges, which act as a deterrent for implementing programmes during the winter season,” he added.
Disy MP Nikos Sykas remarked that his party would closely monitor the implementation of schedules, aiming to counterbalance tourism losses, especially from the Russian market, in the right direction.
Addressing a query from Sykas regarding plans for camping, glamping, and open farms, Koumis mentioned these being under consideration by their deputy ministry. He acknowledged the need to readdress the matter of glamping for further discussion, similarly for open farms.
Akel MP Kostas Costa praised his party’s positive contribution to the National Tourism Strategy for 2030 and highlighted the need to address issues arising after Covid-19, calling for the urgent implementation of plans aligned with the strategy and wary of their environmental impacts.