Deputy Minister of Tourism Kostas Koumis on Friday acknowledged that the Cypriot tourism sector is in need of foreign workers, noting that the increase in tourist arrivals has further exacerbated the issue of labour shortages.

In statements following a tour in Protaras and Ayia Napa, Koumis said that “the results so far for tourism indicate an upward trend”.

“The quarterly results show an increase of over 5 per cent compared to the previous year”, he stated, while also noting that Protaras has also experienced a rise in visitors.

“We have made upgrades to the beaches and the services offered have been revitalised, something we welcome at the Deputy Ministry of Tourism,” he added.

Asked about the presence of workers from third countries in tourist businesses, Koumis explained that “it would certainly be preferable to have our compatriots in every position in tourism”.

“However,” he continued, “we cannot do without foreign labour, and this is evidenced by the numbers”.

Tourism in our country, he explained, “recorded an increase of just over 4 million arrivals in 2016, to almost four million in 2023”.

“All of these increases in arrivals require additional hands in the industry we are a country with a limited population, so it is necessary to enrich the tourism sector with foreign labour,” Koumis said.

What matters, the Deputy Minister continued, “is that these people are trained properly before entering the industry or during their work, so that the quality of hospitality does not fall”.

He explained that the government is now trying to address this issue by dealing directly with the educational sector. This is done for two main reasons. One is to help train newcomers into the sector, and the other is to create specialised courses for students. In this context, he referenced the ‘Pausanias the Traveller 2024’ student competition.

For me, Kostas Koumi said, “it is very important for the new generation of our country to understand which sectors contribute to the economy, what are the sensitivities that characterise these sectors, and to receive the right messages”.

Responding to another question, Koumis said that “the Ministry of Tourism works day and night to have another successful tourist year,” noting that “we place particular emphasis on upgrading the tourist product offered”.

“We are trying to take advantage of every opportunity arising from the Recovery and Resilience Fund,” he stated.

“We have announced some incentive plans in specific geographical areas of Cyprus, areas that, of course, allow us to proceed with tenders,” he added.

Moreover, he said that “what we expect is that these specific plans will be utilised by the local authorities in order to continue to upgrade our tourist product”.

“It is very important for everyone to understand that the increase in competitiveness is imperative. The increase in the attractiveness of destinations is imperative. If we want to have better days in tourism, we must all work together to raise the level of competitiveness of the services offered,” Koumis stressed.

Asked about adventure tourism, the minister said that “this is a special form of tourism that is recording an upward trend globally, and we at the ministry are also trying to benefit from this popularity”.

“Something like this could be done in the Cape Greco area, where there is a certain altitude present, but perhaps it cannot be done in that specific area,” he concluded.