Cyprus’ tourism is highly dependent on a handful of giant tour operators who will determine the post-coronavirus fate of the sector, Phileleftheros reports.
The Mediterranean island’s key operators number two or three as do its main tourism markets. Specifically, TUI, JET2, Easy Jet and Biblio-Globus bring the largest numbers of tourists from Britain and Russia.
In recent years, about 60% of tourists visit Cyprus on travel packages provided by travel organisers.
The coronavirus crisis has tested the limits of tour operators who have had to cancel travel packages and suspend operations. All scenarios are on the table, according to Cypriot hoteliers who have regular contact with travel organisers.
And despite the positive messages regarding the finances of these companies, their requested loans and announced staff redundancies seem to indicate the exact opposite.
What’s certain is that all operators are now focusing on this year’s winter and the summer of 2021. No travel organiser can either predict the exact time the pandemic comes under control or the re-opening of airports. Therefore, their main concern is to ensure as much liquidity as possible.
Any move by a giant tour operator directly affects Cyprus’ tourism. TUI was on the brink of bankruptcy and secured a €1.8 billion loan from the German federal government.
Following the collapse in September of main rival Thomas Cook, TUI’s management rushed to take advantage of the gap and expanded the overall number of travel packages to Cyprus.
The message sent to hoteliers in Cyprus in March was that it would strengthen its role in the Cypriot market, bringing in more tourists.
However, the coronavirus pandemic has changed everything and the suspension of flights that would bring over some 600,000 tourists annually means that everything is up in the air.
The fledgling easyJet Holidays, whose goal was to grab a piece of the collapsed UK-based Thomas Cook’s pie since it also had the advantage of easyJet flights to many Mediterranean destinations, is also in turmoil.
The coronavirus crisis is a big blow for the company which would have entered the field of organized travel for the first time this year – at a time when easyJet faces serious liquidity problems.
As for JET2 holidays, it has already announced that it ceases operations up until June 17 and that its focus will be on winter 2020 and the year to follow – 2021.
The state of play with the Russian market is somewhat different. Biblio-Globus always had a different business approach and at the moment there is no clear picture of the Russian market.
What is certain, however, is that hoteliers have received no reservation requests from Russia and this is not a positive sign.
What makes things even more uncertain is Moscow being very secretive over the coronavirus outbreak’s state of play there, Phileleftheros reports.
By Demetra Landou