Deputy Minister of Tourism Kostas Koumis has extolled the value of sports tourism, saying that it can have a multiplier effect on the local economy, after having noted the segment’s significant growth across the world.

Koumis’ comments were made to the Cyprus News Agency (CNA), in the context of the inaugural International Water Polo Tournament, sponsored by Petrolina, which took place in Larnaca over the weekend.

In his comments, the Deputy Minister of Tourism voiced appreciation for the hosting of the international water polo tournament in Cyprus.

“It is a sport that is not particularly developed in our country, despite having been designated an Olympic sport since the early 20th century and despite aligning with what we offer as a destination,” Koumis said.

“Of course,” he continued, “there is an explanation for everything, and in this case, the underdevelopment in Cyprus is due to the fact that for years we did not have the necessary infrastructure for these types of sports.”

“Even today, sports infrastructure of this kind has deficiencies and weaknesses,” he added.

“Personally”, he pointed out, “what is noteworthy is that once again it is proven that sports can yield multiplicative benefits for tourism”.

The tournament resulted in a number of visitors travelling to Cyprus from Greece, drawing critical comments from the minister, who said that the island has not done enough in terms of this specific market.

“In this instance, visitor inflows were generated from a country that has never received the appropriate attention in terms of tourism, despite the fact that we share many connections, and I am referring to Greece,” the minister said.

Referring to Larnaca, Koumis said that “it is now a fact that the city of Larnaca is constantly being upgraded and in recent years has hosted several events of international significance, enjoying the corresponding benefits as a city and as a destination”.

Furthermore, he extended “warm congratulations to the organisers and especially to the volunteers, without whom the event would not have been possible”.

Meanwhile, it should be noted that earlier this month, Koumis again underscored “the significant contribution of sports tourism” to the country, after the success of the recently held Ayia Napa football tournament, which saw a record number of participants.

Sports tourism is the market segment with the biggest growth in the global tourism economy,” Koumis stated at the time.

Koumis added that “our intention and goal as deputy tourism ministry is to further strengthen sports tourism, which is again proving to be a form of tourism that can grow even more in our country and contribute significantly to the extension of the tourist season”.

He also said that “it is with great satisfaction to we see the Ayia Napa Soccer Tournament growing, with an increasing contribution to the tourism economy”.

The minister explained that such events facilitate both domestic tourism and arrivals from other countries, particularly during a weaker period of the tourist calendar.

Koumis said that 66 teams from 8 foreign countries participated in this year’s event. He noted that this “is equivalent to more than 1,000 children from abroad, many of whom are accompanied by their parents”.

According to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), “sports tourism is a fundamental axis, generating around 10 per cent of the world’s expenditure on tourism“.

The organisation said that sports tourism has an estimated growth rate of 17.5 per cent between 2023-2030, “moving masses intra and intercontinentally”.

Finally, the UNWTO has also said that “sports tourism can promote social, economic and environmental action, it accelerates development and can leave a long-lasting positive legacy”.