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Three million tourists in Cyprus?

A total of three million travellers are expected to visit Cyprus in 2016, shattering all previous records while at the same time testing whether the tourism industry can handle such growth.

In a meet-and-greet meeting with the House Commerce hearing committee, Tourism Minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis said the big bet for Cyprus is whether the island can turn high arrival numbers into a sustainable solution for the industry. Lakkotrypis also called on the public to use social media to file any complaints in cases of profiteering, a phenomenon which has been rampant on the island in tourist areas.

The minister also spoke in favour of extending the tourist season into the winter months, but he warned against making huge changes in a rush.

“We are already seeing full occupancy levels in hotels this June,” Lakkotrypis said, adding that the goal was to “extend the season by one or two weeks each year, in November and March, so that we can slowly but surely reach the desirable outcome”.

This has been echoed by critics who have accused the industry’s leadership of not doing enough to support a longer and busier season.

On the one hand, experts point fingers at hotels that shut down in the winter citing lack of arrivals, while municipal authorities are also often scorned for not boosting their efforts to create more activities for tourists in the slower months.

Lakkotrypis clarified that the 3 million figure was estimated barring unforeseen circumstances.

Cyprus destination sustainable tourism Cyprus

George Lakkotrypis, the minister of tourism has said that rip-off merchants in resorts across Cyprus must be publicly exposed, as expressed: “we cannot control prices in a free market.” He urged, however, the public to use the social media in order to “name and shame” establishments.

Recently there have been increased calls for the Cyprus Tourism Organisation to clamp down on overcharging. The issue came back into spotlight after a customer was told to cough up a jaw-dropping €8.40 for two coffees on Ledra Street in Nicosia a few months ago. The horrified customer went public, leading to national radio, TV and newspaper coverage. The incident is not unusual. In January a family paid 41 euros for three sandwiches and water at a cafe in Paphos.

Expectations & facts:

  • based on participation in tourism exhibitions in the UK and Russia, 20% more British tourists are expected this year along with 50% more Russian visitors to come to Cyprus
    calling on tourism-related businesses to do their best to ensure this year’s visitors return again and again (by Ayia Napa Mayor Yiannis Karousos)
  • 3,000 new beds made available from this summer 2016, many of these had already been snapped up by Russian and UK tourist agencies
  • recent geopolitical events in Turkey and the Middle East would encourage tourists to consider Cyprus instead
  • a new law had given municipalities the authority to appoint a force (such in case of noise pollution and touting via aggressive promotion of venues)
  • this year’s booking figures are very encouraging for Cyprus tourism (the Energy, Commerce, Industry and Tourism Minister George Lakkotrypis)
    referring to recent visit to Moscow’s tourism exhibition of the minister (April 2016), “bookings were revealed as being approximately 50% more than last year (2015)”, added that this trend was most prominent during the winter months, “which we hope to boost even more”
  • bookings from the main markets, such as the UK and Russia, are also on the rise” (Cypriot hoteliers)
  • opportunity to highlight Cypriot hospitality and emphasize Cypriot culture
  • British Airways has announced plans to double the number of daily flights for its summer timetable (flights from Larnaca to London Heathrow Terminal 5, will bump up its flights from 7 to 14 per week; flight schedule from Pafos to London Gatwick are 19 of weekly flights to and from the island).

Key facts in 2016 annual research for Cyprus:

GDP (direct contribution) – the direct contribution of Travel & Tourism to GDP was EUR 1,109.5mn (6.4% of total GDP) in 2015, and is forecast to rise by 4.3% in 2016, and to rise by 3.7% pa, from 2016-2026, to EUR 1,665.3mn (7.6% of total GDP) in 2026.

GDP (total contribution) – the total contribution of Travel & Tourism to GDP was EUR 3,364.9mn (19.3% of GDP) in 2015, and is forecast to rise by 4.4% in 2016, and to rise by 3.6% pa to EUR 4,996.5mn (22.9% of GDP) in 2026.

Source: In-CyprusFamagusta GazetteWhat to expect from the touristic season 2016?World Travel & Tourism Council: CYPRUS 2016

Related articles: Your support towards sustainable tourism in CyprusYour benefits of being a responsible traveler.

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