The ultimate goal of the National Tourism Strategy 2030 is to establish Cyprus as an all-season, high-quality, digitally intelligent and accessible tourist destination, that respects the environment and channels the benefits of tourism across the island, said Deputy Minister of Tourism, Savvas Perdios, adding that the aim is for Cyprus to be ranked in the world's top 30 countries.
Perdios was speaking on Tuesday during a press conference during which he outlined the National Tourism Strategy 2030.
Reviewing the three-year period 2020-2022, the Deputy Minister said that the National Tourism Strategy was implemented by 95%, despite the pandemic and the war in Ukraine. An important achievement was the establishment of a new tourist brand name for Cyprus, as "it is no longer the island of sun and sea", he noted, but is promoted as a destination with history, culture and authentic experiences, all year round.
During the period 2020-2022, the connectivity of Cyprus, both by sea and by air, also improved. Cruise companies became active in Cyprus, using Cyprus as a home port, while in 2022 cruise ship passenger arrivals increased to 350,000 people, from 130,000 in 2019.
In addition, new air routes were introduced, compared to 2019, to Europe and the Middle East, while new routes to France, Belgium and Switzerland are expected in the near future. The Deputy Minister noted that the current connectivity of Cyprus is at the same levels as in 2019, while currently routes from Russia and Ukraine are not included.
New destinations, such as France, Italy, Hungary, Serbia and Saudi Arabia have been added to the existing markets of Germany, Poland, Israel, Scandinavian countries, the Netherlands, Greece, Austria, Switzerland and Jordan, he said, adding that 40% of arrivals come from the EU, compared to 25% before the pandemic. The Deputy Minister also noted the cooperation with Jordan, to attract distant markets like the USA, Canada, Korea, Japan, and China through joint tourist packages.
Before the pandemic, Perdios noted, tourism was dependent on Tour Operators by 70% and on individual travelers by 30% while today these numbers have become 50-50, which he said is "healthy for the market".
Cyprus is currently ranked 31st out of 117 countries in the Travel and Tourism Development Index of the World Economic Forum, 21st out of 43 in Europe and 6th out of 16 in the Mediterranean. The goal is for Cyprus to rank among the top 30 markets worldwide and among the top 20 in Europe. For reference, Greece is currently in 28th place worldwide.
To achieve this, Cyprus must improve its public transport as well as speed up visa procedures for entry from third countries. The Deputy Minister indicated that the matter has been the subject of communication with the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Transport.
In addition, price competitiveness also needs improvement, with the Deputy Minister noting that what we want is not a reduction in prices, but an improvement in product quality.
He further noted that the Russian market now occupies a much smaller percentage of the goals of the Deputy Ministry of Tourism for 2030. While in the 2020 targets the Russian market had the second largest share after the UK, in the revised 2022 targets its share is no different from the rest of the markets apart from the UK. Perdios reiterated that the EU markets are now the target for further development of the Cypriot tourism product, while he noted that he expects a large increase in the coming period from the Polish market.