The fledgling Deputy Ministry for Tourism ‘sees’ dark clouds over Cyprus’ tourism with Brexit and the opening up of neighbouring competitive markets giving a headache to the sector’s policy drafters.
At the same time, hoteliers are sending out an SOS because of moderate bookings recorded so far but they also pledge to do their best to keep up with last year’s ever high number of arrivals and overnight stays.
Undersecretary for Tourism Savvas Perdios has acknowledged that this is a difficult year for tourism with many challenges ahead. Especially now that the number of arrivals has reached four million and expectations are really high.
He told daily Phileleftheros: “We are cautiously optimistic this year because of the Brexit issue which is not clear yet. This is something we closely monitor at the Deputy Ministry…we find it very hard to make any predictions.”
Visits to Berlin and Moscow are imminent, he added, before noting: “Tourism fairs there will give us an opportunity to talk to various agencies and key players in the sector and we will find out what to expect from them. The market will provide us with the necessary messages.”
In regard to competitive neighbouring destinations, such as Turkey and Egypt, the deputy minister said that these countries have started early bookings for 2019, as opposed to last year during which bookings began late, from the summer onwards, due to security issues.
“Egypt has a lot of room to go forward in the recovery of its tourism sector considering that it had reached up to 14 million arrivals in the past, compared to only eight million in recent years,” the deputy minister said.
As for Turkey, Perdios said that the British pound now is about 30% cheaper than last year. “Competition will therefore be strong this year…Turkey and Egypt have significantly lower operating costs compared to Cyprus, so they have a competitive advantage which is hard to beat,” he added.
Director General of the Cyprus Hoteliers Association (Pasyxe) Zacharias Ioannides told Phileleftheros that 2019 is expected to be a difficult year.
“In recent years,” he explained “really high rises in tourist arrivals have been recorded and our goal is to keep up with those numbers.”
It is somewhat difficult to predict future arrivals at this moment, he added, but did point out that the Berlin tourism fair will be an indication. One way or another, hoteliers continue efforts to attract as many tourists as possible from other markets as well, including from Central Europe, Scandinavia and the Middle East.
Meanwhile, passenger arrivals increased by 9.9% in December 2018, reaching 234.214 compared to 213.082 in December 2017. The island’s Statistical Service has noted that this increase is mainly due to arrivals of tourists (+7.7 %) and the return of Cypriot residents (+ 10.2%). Traveler departures also showed an increase of 12% in December 2018 compared to the same month the year before. Also, travel arrivals increased by 3.3% in November 2018, reaching a high of 261.765.