Sunday, 7 May 2017

CYPRUS: The Ever Growing Tourism In Cyprus

Tourism starts the year with a bang! Tourism started the year on a strong footing, with revenue from tourists soaring by 21.6% in January compared with the same month of 2016, according to data released by the Cyprus Statistical Service (Cystat).

Revenue from tourism reached €35.4 million in January 2017 according to the Passengers’ Survey, compared with €29.1m in January 2016. Also arrivals in January also showed a strong increase, leaping by 28.8% to 62,611.

Visitors from the UK, which is the largest source of tourists, rose to 17,404 compared with 14,552 in January 2016. Visitors from Russia, the second largest market, rose by an astonishing 57.7%, reaching 13,677 this January compared to 5,304 last January.

UK spending expenditure per capita per trip rose to €727, compared with €675 last January. The spending per person per day was €60.1, compared with €59.05 at the same month of last year.

The average stay of British tourists was 12.1 days compared to 11.4 last January.

Russian expenditure was less than that of the UK. Russian per capita expenditure per trip was €607 compared with €696 last January. However their daily expenditure was higher, at €81 compared to €64 in January 2016.

The average stay of Russians was 7.5 days in January 2017, compared with 10.8 days in January 2016.

The trend continued in February, with arrivals rising by 24.6% to 82,209, compared with 65,988 in February 2016.

In the whole of 2016, arrivals rose by 19.8% to a record 3,186,531.

The tourism quality factor: according to very recent projections, 2017 will be a booming year for Cyprus’ tourism industry. More than three million people are expected to visit the island from both traditional and newly developed markets.

It is a development that successive Cyprus governments were hoping to achieve. And the challenge, of course, is whether the island’s tourist infrastructure will be able to cope with such a demand for professional and quality services.

Our investigations show that there is a clear possibility that quite a few establishments, mainly hotels and restaurants in various parts of Cyprus, will be either understaffed or will be hiring untrained people to serve the visitors.

The main reason for this worrying situation is the extremely bad employment terms and conditions workers, mainly foreigners, have to face when filling vital positions in hotel and restaurants at popular tourist areas.

In fact, we have confirmed that Cyprus has acquired an unflattering reputation abroad as an employer in the tourism business. Extremely low pay, long working hours and six-day weeks, discourages qualified, professional staff to seek employment in the tourist sector here.

There is also a concern that hotels and other establishments won’t have the number of beds collectively necessary to accommodate all visitors expected to arrive during the long hot summer season.

The above are not just hitches that can be easily brushed away by the local tourism industry. They are serious concerns that dent Cyprus’ image, presenting the country as a place where quantity is more important than quality.

Recently, out of circumstances that had nothing to do with local efforts to improve the touristic product, the island enjoyed a healthy increase in affluent visitors. If the industry really wants these tourists to come back, they urgently need to work on providing them with quality services.

A new study on tourism development suggests that by 2030 tourism arrivals could go up by 82 %, revenues increase by 185 % and 64 % more staff employed in the industry if the study’s strategy is implemented. The new plan, which was presented to a ministerial committee in February 2017, is part of developing a new tourism strategy.

“For the first time, an integrated, comprehensive national strategy presents not only quantitative and qualitative objectives but a specific plan with proposed actions and schedules for how these goals will be achieved, and by which public and private entities, with a time frame from 2017 to 2030,” an official announcement said.

The statement said experts have found that by 2030 Cyprus can become a year-round sustainable tourist destination that attracts an additional 4.8 million foreign tourists, 40 per cent of whom will visit the island in the period from November to April.

“The proposed new model of tourism development aims to attract tourists with higher per capita expenditure and create significant added value for Cyprus, for the local community, business, environment and economy,” said the announcement.

To achieve the targets integrated planning is needed, as is “upgrading of existing tourist clusters with better service, improving the visual aesthetics, creating new products and a rich experience for tourists with emphasis on local heritage, culture and natural environment, while contributing to and improving the quality of life of Cypriot citizens.”

After a record year of 2016, Tourism Minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis expects even more positive results this year of 2017 barring unforeseen obstacles, he said on February 14, in an address to a hoteliers’ conference in Nicosia, as year of 2016 was a landmark year for tourism both in terms of arrivals and revenue. There were 500,000 more visitors last year, reaching a total of 3.2 million plus a 12 per cent hike in revenue to €2.3bn.

“We believe that in 2017 this positive trend with regard to arrivals and revenue will continue,” he said. “This is clear from both reservations and flights data for Cyprus.”

Lakkotrypis added that at the same time there was also a risk of being negatively affected due to geopolitical instability in the region. “So to get the results we want we must continue the efforts to enhance the competitiveness and sustainable development of our tourist product,” he added.

The minister said that in this regard, the new strategy for tourism and the creation of an under-secretariat were in the final stages. To achieve the desired results, researchers have focused on actions such as targeting the mix of tourists and focusing on attracting visitors in a higher income bracket, upgrading existing infrastructure, improving the quality of services and establishing quality control mechanisms, and better promotion.

There is also an incentives’ plan afoot to help hotels stay open in the winter and thus prolong the season as much as possible, along with the addition of more flights all year round.

The Minister said the new national strategy for tourism, aiming primarily at a modern tourist product, is about to be concluded during the year of 2017.

It is a well-known fact that tourism is a significant contributor to the island’s economy, with tourism in 2015 collecting €3.4 billion in revenue, which corresponds to 19.3 % of GDP in 2015. The increase in tourist arrivals in 2016 has translated into a 4.4% increase in revenue from tourism, or a total of €3.5 billion(19.9% of GDP). In addition, future projections for tourism are positive: a 3.6% annual increase is expected until 2026, for total collected revenue of €5 billion, or 22.9% of GDP.

According to a KPMG report titled “Cyprus Tourism Market Report” which was published by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), the tourism industry is one of the largest sectors in the Cyprus economy, with significant growth during the past five years, with the number of tourists reaching 3.2 million in 2016.

The KPMG report says 2016 was a record year in tourist arrivals, with the number reaching 3,186,531. In 2016 there was an increase of 19.8% compared to 2015, when tourist arrivals reached 2,659,405. The report also notes that the Cyprus tourist product is more expensive than other Mediterranean destinations. Also mentioned in the report are the government’s efforts to decrease seasonality in tourism, by increasing the tourist period by two months. There is also mention of the casino-resort to begin construction in the near future which will also decrease seasonality.

One of the Top 10 beaches is Fig Tree bay in Protaras – fourth on the Europe list and 19th in the world, was noted for its ‘very clean beach with lots of sunbeds’ and the chance to enjoy water sports in its clear waters, too.

New tourism study predicts rosy future, Tourism minister confident for 2017, Tourism contributes €3.5 billion to economy in 2016, Lakkotrypis: Positive Trend in Tourism to Continue in 2017, TripAdvisor names 2017’s best beaches in the world

Following a recent agreement signed between TUI UK & Ireland and BookYourWeddingDay.com, Cyprus is expected to become one of the top destinations for weddings.

The three-year agreement aims to benefit all parties involved, by accelerating the wedding booking process while avoiding bureaucratic procedures and by providing the opportunity for couples to easily select their ideal venue.

Maria Evripides, CEO, BookYourWedding.com, stated, "This cooperation is not only a milestone for the evolution of our platform, but also a significant vote of confidence testifying to the importance and strategic power of wedding tourism as a whole."

In order to ensure the success of the booking process, executive members of the Cyprus-based wedding platform travelled to Wales to train travel agents to effectively use the booking system.