Government announces open consultation for National Tourism Strategy

President of the Republic Nicos Anastasiades has announced the commencement of an open consultation on the National Strategy for Tourism.

In his address at the Annual General Assembly of the Cyprus Hotels Association (PASYXE), read out by Tourism Minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis, the President said that the aim is to submit as soon as possible to the Cabinet an Action Plan on the implementation of the National Tourism Strategy for the period 2017-2030.

The Government, he said, has concluded the regulatory framework on the operations of the hotels which is now before the Law Office of the Republic, noting that it is a modern regulatory framework, based on acknowledged good practices that will be conducive to ridding hotel owners of anachronistic bureaucratic burdens.

Referring to the National Tourism Strategy, President Anastasiades said that it is the first time that an integrated strategy in this important area with quantitative and qualitative goals but also a concrete plan with proposed actions, budgets and timetables over the next thirteen years until 2030 is being promoted.

The National Strategy for Tourism in undoubtedly the main expression of a new and essential long-term approach for the tourist industry he said.

The Government’s vision, said Anastasiades, is to render Cyprus by 2030 a sustainable all year-round tourist destination which will attract more than six million visitors annually giving emphasis on the target for 4.8 million quality tourists, that will have a significant added value for Cyprus, local society, enterprises, the environment and the economy.

The President said that the new conditions created by the Government in the business environment have allowed for investments to come in, that contribute or will contribute significantly to the improvement of the tourist product, such as the new marina in Agia Napa and Paralimni, the development of the marina and the port of Larnaca, the casino in Limassol and more projects of large or small range that gradually regenerate the country.

In his address, Anastasiades noted the necessity to establish an Under Secretariat of Tourism, adding that currently there are dispersed or overlapped competencies that do not facilitate the solution of competitiveness problems faced by the tourist industry.

PASYXE Chairman Harris Loizides said that 2016 was a landmark year for tourism and the hotel industry, as the negative climate was reversed.

Last year was a landmark year, simply because we reversed that course. In 2014 global tourism increased by almost 4 per cent, at a time when tourism in Cyprus increased by approximately 201% he noted.

Over the past two years, he said, several things have been achieved to improve the competitiveness of the tourist product of Cyprus and the extension of the tourist season. He also said that as a result of incentives introduced by the Government, the hotel industry has added some 11,000 new beds and has managed to attract investments of more than 450 million euro.

Loizides said that the 2015-16 winter period there was a significant increase of the tourist flow to the island of 30%, while the increase throughout the year was 20%. He added that in the winter of 2016 464,000 tourists visited Cyprus, a figure corresponding to an increase of 23% compared to 2015 and 54% compared to 2014.

He recalled that in 2013 PASYXE declared his belief that tourism could lead the economy to a recovery path and that by 2018 it was possible to reach 3.5 million tourists annually from 2.4 million, a goal described by some as over-optimistic.

But today, he stressed, this goal is likely to be reached one year earlier, that is this year.

The Chairman of PASYXE expressed concern over whether the incentives and plans promoted by the state after 2013 are enough to guarantee continued success in case competitive destinations become politically stable and make a dynamic come back.

He also voiced concern over the fact that the industry remains overindebted.

“All this shows that we still have a long way to go,” he noted.

May 2017 recorded 419 thousand arrivals, an increase of 150 thousand from the average of the same months in the previous fifteen years, Chairman of the Cyprus Tourism Organisation Angelos Loizou said. A few years ago, May barely exceeded 70 thousand he said.

He pointed out that Cyprus in recent years has achieved multiple increases compared to other tourist destinations in southern Europe.

According to Loizou, Cyprus draws tourists with a comparatively higher income, noting in particular that this year has seen an increase in the daily spending of tourists.

Since 2013, we have managed to attract about 800 thousand additional tourists, which indicated that we are on the right path he said.

For 2017, all indications and figures allow for optimism for even higher levels of tourist arrivals, he noted.

He pointed out that Cyprus needs to become more flexible, quicker and more effective through reforms and that the CTO powers have to be expanded and strengthened.

Loizou also stressed that the hotel industry needs to respond to the high level of demand that Cyprus has been enjoying in recent years, so as not to disappoint its traditional partners.

Source: Cyprus News Agency