"We are cautiously optimistic," said Tourism Minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis, "that even the emerging markets, such as Russia and Ukraine, for which we had concerns, have retained the number of seats booked since the beginning of the year and there was no reduction. We have about 750,000 bookings from Russia and about 100,000 bookings from Ukraine”.
Speaking at the opening of the exhibition ‘Travel 2014’, the Minister attributed the tourist flow from Ukraine to the fact that Ukrainians are seeking alternative destinations for the Summer, apart from Crimea. "Therefore, for 2014 we are very optimistic, as for the winter period 2014-2015 and I hope that we will have good news soon," he said.
Lakkotypis referred to continuous, targeted and intensive efforts by the Government to attract more tourists, stressing the importance of the sector to the Cypriot economy.
He explained that the Government in cooperation with the Cyprus Tourism Organization took a series of measures to facilitate tourist arrivals in Cyprus, such as the simplification of visa-granting procedure, the increase in the frequency of flights to and from Cyprus and the new flying programs from Doha, Basel, Riga and Helsinki. "At the same time, important steps are taken to extend the tourist season, enrich our tourist product and rationalize the use of CTO financial resources”, he said.
The Minister also said that last year Cyprus welcomed 2.4 million visitors, recording an increase in tourism revenue by 8,2%, despite the 2.4% decline in arrivals.
In his speech, the President of the Association of Cyprus Travel Agents (ACTA) Victor Mantovani said that incoming tourism had a moderate course in 2013. "Without the booming of the Russian market”, he continued, "things would have been much worse”. He added however that the increase in the Russian market was the result of a general increase in all Mediterranean destinations.
Mantovani urged the Government to take all the necessary measures to solve the problems of the sector, which as he said, "are easy to be solved without any substantial cost, as long as there is the will and determination”.
Saying that he is cautiously optimistic about the indications so far, the President of ACTA said that tourism on the island has huge potential.
Source: Famagusta Gazette