There was a significant increase in the number of passengers processed through Larnaka and Pafos airports and a further boost to Cyprus’ connectivity, with the entrance of new airlines and the introduction of new routes, according to Hermes Airports’ official data for 2016.
More specifically, a total of 8,974,163 passengers travelled through the airports in 2016, 1,365,000 more than in 2015, recording an 18% increase. There was a 24.5% rise at Larnaka airport and 2.6% at Pafos airport. According to Hermes Airports’ data, the most important hikes were recorded by the markets of Russia (+47%), the United Kingdom (+13%), Greece (+14.5%) and Israel (+47%).
Moreover, the Cypriot airports’ network was further enhanced by the operation of 10 new airlines and the introduction of 21 new routes, thus boosting the island’s connectivity.
The new airlines, Cobalt Air, Pobeda, TUS Airways, Ellinair, Air Berlin, Azur Air, Yan Air, Wind Rose, Alitalia and Israir, carried some 428,000 passengers, while an increase in the number of flights to existing routes led to an additional 919,000 passengers.
Commenting on the numbers, Hermes Airports’ Chief Executive Officer Eleni Kaloyirou said that 2016 ended on a high note. These results, she noted, “have a direct positive impact on Cyprus’ economy and tourism”.
She stressed, however, that “they do not allow for complacency” and that “the coordinated efforts by Hermes as well as other tourism stakeholders must continue and intensify”. If this is the case, Kaloyirou estimated that this upward trend will continue in 2017.
Despite the surge in tourists, restaurants, clubs, taverns and souvenir shops in Protaras are emptier than ever. Three months into the tourist season and yet owners of tourist businesses in the area have expressed their disappointment.
According to Petros Assia, the president of leisure businesses in Protaras, this phenomenon has been very common in the last five years.
“Although the streets, beaches and hotels in Protaras are full, the rest of the businesses are empty, which has a massive impact on the tourist industry in Cyprus”, said Assia. He added: “I don’t see the situation improving for the rest of the summer months”.
Assia highlighted that this trend is most noticeable in the areas where most “all- inclusive” hotels are located. He said that in other areas with less all-inclusive’ services available, the tourist influx at businesses is much better.
“If this all-inclusive trend is not properly monitored and criteria are set to not only improve it and at the same time protect the rest of the tourist industry, in a few years the climate will be non-reversible,” Assia said.
“This will mean that Cyprus will be just offering hotel services and lacking in the rest that the tourism industry has to offer”. All-inclusive hotels, which increase every year at an alarming rate, offer not only meals but also transportation services and souvenir shops, so tourists don’t spend any money on any other services outside the hotels.
“That is why most of the other businesses in the area are on the brink of bankruptcy”, said Assia. “The lack of profit that the businesses are currently experiencing means that there is no money for upgrades and renovations, which makes them less competitive”.
Assia argued that tourists who visit the island come on a tight budget, and choose to use public transport, do not visit any bars or restaurants or spend any money on shopping.
All-inclusive hotel holidays, especially in Paphos, have become a reality in Cyprus but pose risks for the sustainability of tourism, deputy director general of the Cyprus Tourism Organisation Annita Demetriades said in June 2016. The majority of hotel beds in Paphos are all-inclusive.
“A large number of hotels are offering all-inclusive holidays but negative economic and social effects have been observed in the local community at entertainment establishments, supermarkets, souvenir shops and for excursions,” she said.
To improve the above situation, the CTO, the Cyprus Sustainable Tourism Initiative and the Travel Foundation UK, commissioned the Brighton Hospitality Research Group (BHR) from Brighton University, to further investigate the matter with a view to identifying incentives that could push tourists in Paphos to spend more money and time outside of the hotels.
According to the main conclusions of the study, it was found that among the tourists there was a lack of reliable information in relation to the activities they could engage in outside the hotel complex, and that businesses with something to offer found it was difficult to find a way of promoting what they had to offer.
President of the Cyprus Sustainable Tourism Initiative Philippos Drousiotis, said: “In Paphos, and all over Cyprus in general there is a need to ensure that tourists know the destination and what it has to offer them.”