Hopes for six million tourists a year by 2030

Discussions on a national strategy for tourism will commence in July, with an ambitious plan to have Cyprus an all year tourist destination, attracting over six million visitors annually by 2030, President Nicos Anastasiades said on Monday.

In his speech, read out at the Cyprus hotel association (Pasyxe) annual general meeting by Energy Minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis, Anastasiades outlined his vision saying that in the next 13 years, Cyprus should be attracting tourists throughout the year and of the six million or more that would visit, 4.8 million of them would be quality tourists.

The national strategy would create a concrete plan, budget and deadlines on how this goal would be achieved, which if successful, would boost businesses, the environment and the economy, he said.

Investments across the island such as the Ayia Napa and Paralimni marinas, the Larnaca port and marina developments as well as the casino in Limassol all help improve the quality of tourism Cyprus has to offer, Anastasiades added.

Without going into detail, he said a new, modern, regulatory framework on hotel operations is currently at the legal service which when implemented will rid the hotel industry of cumbersome bureaucratic procedures.

Although Pasyxe chairman Haris Loizides, praised the industry for coming a long way in the past two years, he questioned whether all the marinas, golf courses and other large investments were enough to guarantee success if other competing destinations were to become politically stable.

Nevertheless, as a result of the business incentives offered by the state, over €450m has been invested in the country, and the hotel industry now offers another 11,000 new beds.

Loizides noted winter tourism is on the up where in 2016, there was a 23 per cent increase compared to the previous year and a 54 per cent increase compared to 2014.

Cyprus had a record year in 2016 with 3.2 million visitors. In May this year alone, there were 419,000 arrivals, Cyprus Tourism Organisation chairman Angelos Loizou said, breaking yet another record.

The arrivals for the past month are 150,000 more than the average arrivals from the same month in the past 15 years, he added, where only a few years ago, Cyprus was struggling to get 70,000 visits in May.

Additionally, tourists are spending more, thus indicating 2017 can be another great year for tourism, Loizou said.

Based on figures by the World Tourism Organisation for 2016, Cyprus had double the percentage increase in tourists compared to Spain, Croatia and Malta, four times more than Greece and five times that of Italy, Loizou added.

People in the industry should also not forget ‘internal tourism’ and that Cypriots are also an important clientele, he added, whilst also telling hoteliers they should invest more on human capital and try do away with seasonal employment.

The importance of an undersecretary of tourism was highlighted with Anastasiades saying the person who filled the role would evaluate a Pasyxe request on creating a Hotel Chamber of Commerce.

During the event, former Interior Minister Socrates Hasikos received an honorary award for his contributions to the country and both the hotel and tourism industries.

Hasikos, who resigned in May for personal reasons, thanked them and said he did nothing more and nothing less than what he should have done.