Ministers discuss challenges and prospects of tourism ahead of a record year

The challenges and prospects facing Cyprus tourist industry were discussed in a meeting of Parliamentary Committee of Energy, Commerce, Industry and Tourism as tourist arrivals are close to breaking a new record in 2016.

Minister of Energy, Commerce, Industry and Tourism Yiorgos Lakkotrypis, Minister of the Interior Socratis Hasikos and Minister of Transport, Communications and Works Marios Demetriades attended the meeting.

Speaking to the committee, Lakkotrypis reiterated that 2016 will be exceptionally good in terms of tourist arrivals and tourist revenue.

This will be a record season in the history of Cyprus as tourist arrivals will increase by half a million compared to 2015.

“The issue is to repeat this performance in years to follow and to create the conditions for sustainable growth in this sector, which is the pacesetter of the Cyprus economy,” he stressed.

As he noted, the last estimate for the 2016 tourist arrivals is 3.1 million compared with 2.65 million in 2015 and 2.7 million in 2001 which was the last record year.

Lakkotrypis said that according to the latest figures, the contribution of tourism to Cyprus GDP amounts to 12%.

“I expect the contribution will be bigger this year,” he said.

The Minister noted however that this performance “shows our limits in issues concerning infrastructure,” pointing out that problems emerged in the airports, and specifically in passport control, infrastructure, beaches and telecommunications.

“This year will be a landmark to address these problems and move to the next level,” he stressed.

On his part Hasikos referred to the problems of the many non-licensed tourist accommodation, noting that the majority of these problems are owner-related.

According to data submitted in the meeting, 52% of the total tourist accommodation units operate without a license by the Cyprus Tourism Organisation.

Demetriades referred to the issue of air connectivity with Cyprus, highlighting the significant increase in flights to and from Cyprus since January 2015.

He said that airport traffic increased by 3.6% in 2015 and by 15% so far, noting that all gaps that emerged following the liquidation of Cyprus Airways, Cyprus national air carrier, have been covered.

Angelos Votsis, the Committee Chairman called on the authorities to maintain the momentum in the tourist arrivals for the coming years.

“If we manage to make these tourist act as ambassadors of Cyprus abroad this would be a great achievement that would assist the effort,” he concluded.

Source: Cyprus News Agency