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 investigation this week shows 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.
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