The Ministry of Tourism expects an increase in tourist arrivals for this year compared to last year's “tragic” year for tourism, however the numbers are not expected to even reach those of 2019. As Deputy Minister of Tourism Savvas Perdios stated in a press conference, this year the Cyprus is expected to rely mainly on traditional markets that are moving faster with vaccinations, but also on new markets.
He noted that the most advanced countries in the field of vaccination that are expected to better control the pandemic are today Britain, Israel and Russia, which are the markets from which 65% of arrivals came in 2019. This means that will put the situation under control more easily and there will be fewer restrictions on their movement to Cyprus. At the same time, he said that it is positive that direct flights are expected with France and the Scandinavian countries and there will be no more dependence on travel organizers.
He also described as positive the change in the categorization of countries from March 1 and provided the tests for COVID-19, with which, as he said, 56 markets are expected to be continuously open for Cyprus.
He noted, however, that tourism for the first half of the year will be particularly difficult and the State Department is keeping a small basket, due to the ongoing coronavirus situation across Europe and the world and calls from Governments to their citizens not to travel. As he said, regarding the first months of the season nothing moves, there are cancellations while the travel organizers inform them that nothing flies before the end of April, beginning of May.
Vaccinations are not a requirement for tourists
At the same time, Mr. Perdios clarified that the vaccination against COVID-19 disease is not a condition for someone to come to Cyprus, but what is more important is to do the tests needed to come here, on which the new categorization coming into force on 1 March. He also said that there is no official information yet that the vaccinated person does not have the virus and does not carry it.
Answering a question, he stated that in no case will vaccinated people be motivated to come to Cyprus and that anyone who wants to can come and meet the entry criteria, ie the tests based on the category in which his country is located.
At the same time, the Undersecretary stated that he does not like to advertise his country and its product based on epidemiological data, safety and vaccines.
“None of this is a tourism product and I think it is wrong for a country, or any country, to advertise vaccination rates or epidemiological management,” he said.
He added that we are here to promote the product of Cyprus and our uniqueness and that the protocols and vaccinations that can be advertised by many countries are not a competitive advantage.
The Minister said that without anyone being able to make reliable forecasts, tourist flows are expected to be increased compared to last year, which was a tragic year for tourism. According to him, no one knows how much better things can be, but even mentally we will not return to the numbers of 2019.
A tragic year for tourism, but not for the Ministry of State
Mr. Perdios characterized 2020 as a tragic year for tourism, but not for the State Department, noting that the State Department implemented 95% of its action plan. The implementation rate of the National Tourism Strategy 2030, for the actions planned for 2020, amounts to 95%, as he said, while there was a targeted transfer of a small number of actions for 2022 and beyond.
He also said that in 2020 the National Tourism Strategy 2030 was approved and the legislation for Airbnb that will be implemented in 2021 was passed.
The State Department also proceeded with a series of studies and competitions for the promotion of the tourist product of Cyprus.
He also referred to the establishment and operation of the Covid-19 Crisis Group, by the State Department, to manage the issue of repatriation of Cypriot citizens and legal residents of the Republic of Cyprus in quarantine hotels.
Then, he said, there was intensive and detailed work and coordination of competent public and private sector bodies for the completion of operating protocols of airports, hotels, beaches, leisure centers, etc., while relevant online seminars were organized.
He also said that extraordinary negotiations were held with travel organizers and airlines, resulting in the launch of 13 new routes from 10 countries. He particularly noted the descent of Wizz Air, something that Cyprus has been seeking for a long time.
He also said that the State Department gave numerous interviews to many news agencies, networks and media abroad and participated in online presentations in many foreign countries and also launched an extraordinary digital campaign in three stages.
After the opening of Cyprus as a destination, an incentive plan was prepared for implementation within 2021. These concern the organization of conferences / meetings in Cyprus, a plan to sponsor cultural festivals, a plan to sponsor wine and gastronomic events and local products, , hosting program for foreign sports teams, financial support plan for the certification of recreational diving services, incentive plan for hosting cruise ships, incentive plan for organizing familiarization trips for special forms of tourism, plan for the creation, upgrade of infrastructure / facilities, concerning the special forms of tourism, incentive plan for Municipalities and Communities, grant plan, for encouraging quality and aesthetic upgrade projects of beaches and incentive plan for the financial support of experiential workshops, handicrafts, b handicrafts.
At the same time, the State Department proceeded with the upgrading of the tourist product with actions such as the revision of the wine roads, the enrichment of the list of archeological sites for conference events, the upgrading of the Aphrodite Cultural Route, the implementation of actions related to Cyprus, diving tourism, cycling, contacts with abroad regarding special forms of tourism etc.
The realization of projects of tourist interest, in areas of the hinterland, in cooperation with the Department of Forests, as well as the realization of projects of local character, with a tourist aspect in close cooperation with the Commissioner of Mountain Communities, also started. Among them is the planning of an Authentic Experience Route, 300 km, to support and highlight the countryside, mountainous and remote areas and the planning for a large-scale event, lasting one month, in the greater Troodos area, for Christmas 2021.
He also mentioned that the PGA Golf Tournament took place, the largest sporting event ever held in Cyprus and brought 105 of the top players in the world rankings, from 27 different nationalities.
Extension of the plan for domestic tourism
Mr. Perdios said that last year 700 thousand euros were spent until mid-November for domestic tourism and this year 1.5 million will be allocated in the first phase. He said he intends to extend the plan in the first phase by the end of May and a proposal will be submitted to the Council of Ministers.
The Domestic Tourism Support Plan that was initially implemented for the period September – November 2020 and provided for the coverage of 25% of the accommodation costs by the State Department and was extended for the period December 2020 – March 2021 and provides coverage of 35%. For the period September – November 2020, they have benefited from the Plan and have vacationed in all provinces, over 29,000 people, with an estimated number of nights over 63,000.
Actions for 2021
Mr. Perdios said that for 2021 the effort to restart the tourism sector is feverish, in order to achieve the best possible results.
The actions initially concern the marketing and promotion with the implementation of the largest digital advertising campaign ever made in Cyprus, the change of the image of Cyprus abroad, with new material and logo that will be in line with the modern tourist trends and a conscientious campaign of permanent residents of Cyprus, for the beauties of the island and the need to keep it clean.
The actions also concern the improvement of infrastructure and the strengthening of special forms of tourism, with the practical implementation of the various incentive plans established in 2020, the completion of the reputation management system of Cyprus tourism and the completion of important legislation concerning leisure centers, travel agencies, theme parks, campgrounds etc. They also concern the completion of important studies such as e.g. the study of environmental impacts of the implementation of the National Tourism Strategy 2030 and the study of sustainable tourism development of Polis Chrysochous and Tilliria district.
There will also be the launch of 10 tourism certification standards
It also promotes the improvement of the competitiveness of the rural, mountainous and remote areas.
In this context, Mr. Perdios said that the Ministry of Tourism promoted proposals in order to be included in the Cyprus Recovery and Sustainability Plan and to receive European funding as investments, which concern mountainous, rural and remote areas.
In addition, a proposal for reform was included under the title: “Implementation of Principles of the Circular Economy in the hotel sector”.
Perdios: I do not seek any other political post
At the same time, Mr. Perdios, when asked if there is a conflict of interest with his capacity as Deputy Minister and the fact that he previously worked in a large tourism company, said that recent events have shown that the person who should lead the State Department must have specialized knowledge. and previous service in the field and this should be done by the respective governments.
He said that he would not choose another Ministry and that tourism is his love and what he knows how to do and that he undertook it to help the country. He added that it is not his dream, nor his vision for any other political post and that “I am only here for tourism”.
Source: Philenews / KYPE