Sunday, 7 May 2017

CYPRUS: Winter Tourism Rising Up, Tourism Minister Says

Winter tourism on the up! Winter tourism has increased by 35 per cent over the past three years and is expected to grow further, tourism minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis was quoted as saying on Sunday, September 18.

In an interview with Phileleftheros newspaper, the minister was already looking ahead to 2017 now that this year was wrapping up with an estimated 3.1 million record arrivals.

Winter tourism has however not taken off to the same extent as it can only be boosted by specific types of tourism not related to sun and sea, he said, such as incentives for resort hotels and restaurants to stay open all-year-round.

Lakkotrypis, citing a 35 per cent increase in the past three years said this would grow in the coming 2016-2017 winter season. “Of course, in absolute terms, we are talking about small numbers,” he said.

Winter tourism has increased by 35 per cent over the past three years and is expected to grow further, Tourism Minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis was quoted as saying on Sunday.

In an interview with Phileleftheros, the minister was already looking ahead to 2017 now that this year was wrapping up with an estimated 3.1 million record arrivals.

Winter tourism has however not taken off to the same extent as it can only be boosted by specific types of tourism not related to sun and sea, he said, such as incentives for resort hotels and restaurants to stay open all-year-round.

Lakkotrypis, citing a 35 per cent increase in the past three years said this would grow in the coming 2016-2017 winter season.

“Of course, in absolute terms, we are talking about small numbers,” he said.

In the winter of 2015-2016 Cyprus saw around 300,000 tourists. “This means that the scope for further development of winter tourism is huge,” he said, adding that much of the strategy was being focused there.

“But it is unrealistic to say that we can develop our tourism from one day to the next,” he said.

“To achieve this, several factors must contribute. Hotels and all other associated services must remain open. How will we attract tourists when they will have nothing to do except stay inside the hotel because its environs are dead? There is a series of things that need to be improved for better performance in winter tourism but I believe that we are on track,” he added. “We are looking for continuous and steady growth, without ups and downs.”

He also expressed certainty that this year’s record arrivals would be repeated next year.

“It is our top priority to not only repeat this year’s performance, but also to create sustainable growth thereafter.”

He said 2015 has also been a record year despite a number of drawbacks including the closure of Cyprus Airways, Russia’s Transaero and the severe devaluation of the rouble. That year, arrivals had arisen 9 per cent, he said.

“This year we are going through an extraordinary year, the results of which are a combination of circumstances in the region and the preparedness of the public and private sector to take advantage of these circumstances,” said Lakkotrypis.

“We estimate to end 2016 with close to 3.1 million arrivals,” he said.
New factors to help develop the tourism sector in a sustainable manner will include the proposed undersecretariat for tourism and reform of the institutional framework governing all matters relating to tourism, plus “infrastructure projects that are necessary to help us to upgrade the quality of our tourist product”.

For 2017, there will be more airline seats, in addition to agreements with all of the major tour operators in all tourist markets of interest. “Our efforts will be intensified both in relation to our traditional markets, such as Russia and the UK, but also in relation to emerging markets such as Germany, Greece, Israel and Ukraine,” said Lakkotrypis. “We are also interested in the Nordic countries where we have lost ground, which we want to reclaim.”

“The diversification of our tourist product will help us to develop other tourism markets where we have a negligible share,” he added.

Speaking about longer-term plans he mentioned the golf courses, marinas and the planned casino resort.
“I would certainly like to have seen a casino licensed much earlier. There is no doubt that it is an ambitious project, especially due to the model that we have chosen, which is the resort casino, unlike the rest of Europe which chose many smaller casinos. So we believe this will give us additional competitive advantages,” Lakkotrypis said.

The minister said the deadline for proposals was on October 5.
“Our intention is before the end of the year to evaluate and award the winning bid,” he said, adding that there was a possibility that the winning bidder might be allowed, if they wished, to operate a temporary casino immediately until the resort is completed.

A Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO) official has confirmed that a big effort is underway to bolster winter tourism after a record number of summer arrivals in 2016.

Speaking to state radio, CTO Senior Tourism Officer Marinos Menelaou said around 3.5 million people visited Cyprus in the last 11 months which represents historically high figures both in terms of the number of arrivals but also revenue generated from tourism.

Now, he continued, the effort was focused on getting a better grip on winter tourism because Cyprus, as he claimed, holds many upper hands over its competitors. Menelaou went on to say that the onus was now on beefing up operations for winter tourism.

“With regards to 2016, we had a record number of arrivals and revenue generated from tourism. That represents almost four tourists for every Cypriot this year. It is a massive success and one which we need to build on.”

“We need to invest and do more for winter tourism in Cyprus. We cannot be just a tourism destination for only five to six months of the year. From November up until March, we need see what can be done to increase the numbers there too. Tourism is the cornerstone of our economy and it is something that we need to ensure stays strong.”

“We need to work on our image of winter tourism and how it is promoted abroad. That for us is the big challenge at the moment. There has been a rise in winter tourism but we are lacking behind other destinations like the Canary Islands. They get around five to six million visitors ever winter.”

“They have slightly better infrastructure than us but we have the upper hand over a number of other things such as warmer waters, better weather, less rain and better attraction sites to visit and that includes Troodos where tourists can even ski during some months. We are also looking to further promote our cultural attractions and sports tourism, especially for football teams.”

A Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO) official has confirmed that a big effort is underway to bolster winter tourism after a record number of summer arrivals in 2016.

Speaking to state radio, CTO Senior Tourism Officer Marinos Menelaou said around 3.5 million people visited Cyprus in the last 11 months which represents historically high figures both in terms of the number of arrivals but also revenue generated from tourism.

Now, he continued, the effort was focused on getting a better grip on winter tourism because Cyprus, as he claimed, holds many upper hands over its competitors. Menelaou went on to say that the onus was now on beefing up operations for winter tourism.

“With regards to 2016, we had a record number of arrivals and revenue generated from tourism. That represents almost four tourists for every Cypriot this year. It is a massive success and one which we need to build on.”

“We need to invest and do more for winter tourism in Cyprus. We cannot be just a tourism destination for only five to six months of the year. From November up until March, we need see what can be done to increase the numbers there too. Tourism is the cornerstone of our economy and it is something that we need to ensure stays strong.”

“We need to work on our image of winter tourism and how it is promoted abroad. That for us is the big challenge at the moment. There has been a rise in winter tourism but we are lacking behind other destinations like the Canary Islands. They get around five to six million visitors ever winter.”

“They have slightly better infrastructure than us but we have the upper hand over a number of other things such as warmer waters, better weather, less rain and better attraction sites to visit and that includes Troodos where tourists can even ski during some months. We are also looking to further promote our cultural attractions and sports tourism, especially for football teams.”

When asked about how most businesses in the prime tourist areas of Cyprus like Ayia Napa and Protaras shut shop in the winter, Menelaou replied, “We acknowledge that that is one of the challenges that we face (in promoting winter tourism).”

“I suppose it’s like the chicken and the egg? They will not stay open and keep their businesses operating during the winter if there are no visitors. We are trying to change their minds though and are offering them various incentives to stay open.”

“For example, we have signed a deal with an Austrian tour operator that will bring 7,000 visitors – aged 50 and above – in March this year and another 7,000 in March 2018. We feel that this will be a chance for them to get some business and we encourage them to try and breathe some life into the area.”

Brits lead the way. When asked about the types of visitors arriving in Cyprus in 2016, Menelaou confirmed that Britons (36%) made up the bulk of the 3.5million tourist followed by Russians (25%).

“Together, they make up 61% of our tourists but we have also seen an increase in the number of arrivals from neighbouring Israel. For 2015 and 2016, we have seen visits from Israel peak at 140,000.”

“We find this especially interesting because of the close proximity to Israel. Many Israelis see Cyprus as a great location to visit for a short-stay holiday. We have increased flights to and from Israel and have even opened up flights to Israel to and from Paphos.”