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30 May, 2024
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90% winter flight schedule boosts tourism hopes

Can Cyprus capitalize on air seat increase?

Maria Eracleous

Maria Eracleous

Airlines based in Cyprus are planning to operate 90% of their flights during the upcoming winter season, as revealed by Maria Kouroupi, the Director of Communications and Marketing at Hermes Airports, in an interview with "K." This effort underscores the push to bolster Cyprus as a year-round tourist destination. This year, there will be an additional 400,000 air seats available for the winter season compared to the previous year and 800,000 more compared to 2019.

This development signals optimism for higher passenger numbers during the winter season, potentially surpassing previous years. However, the hotel and tourism industry's ability to take full advantage of this increased air capacity remains uncertain. Messages from the hotel industry suggest that while more establishments will stay open during the winter, the overall landscape may not change significantly. To significantly enhance winter tourist traffic, it is essential for travel organizers to show interest, and improvements must be made to the existing plan that subsidizes hotel employees during the winter months.

In December, there are 893 available properties, including multi-star hotels, with varying numbers in different regions. Paphos offers 228 properties, including 31 hotels, while Limassol has 130 accommodations, including 36 hotels. Larnaca boasts 288 properties, with 52 of them being hotels. Nicosia has 129 accommodations, with 19 in the hotel category. In Ayia Napa, there are 73 accommodations, including 16 hotels, and Protaras has 46 properties in total, with 10 hotels open during this period. It appears that the remaining units operating in the winter will have good occupancy rates.

Regarding staff salaries, Jason Perdios, CEO of Louis Hotels, notes that approximately 10% of all hotels will remain open during the winter season. While this is a positive development, it may not be sufficient to extend the winter season significantly. The key to a successful winter season is seen as the improvement of the plan that subsidizes hotel staff salaries during this period. Last year, this plan was implemented but saw limited usage due to its complexity and the requirement for hotels to employ at least 50% of their staff during the winter to participate. Discussions are ongoing to amend this plan to make it more accessible to a greater number of establishments.

Marketing plays a crucial role in making Cyprus a year-round tourist destination. The interest of tour operators and the availability of packages from November to March are essential, but they rely on demand, which in turn necessitates effective promotion and advertising. The government is expected to collaborate with hoteliers to address these marketing and operational cost issues.

Panagiotis Konstantinou, president of PASYXE Famagusta, emphasizes that reducing seasonality in Cyprus tourism requires a collective effort from hotels, tour operators, airlines, and supporting businesses. Infrastructure projects to enhance the destination's appeal, especially during the winter season, are also essential.

Regarding the summer season, hoteliers express satisfaction, although occupancy rates do not fully align with tourist arrivals. While average occupancy is close to 2019 levels for the year, some units struggled, particularly in July and August. Notably, Paphos hotels performed well, and certain Limassol Five-Star hotels faced challenges due to shifts in their target markets. Famagusta's recovery in attracting tourists from other markets has been notable, offsetting the loss of Russian tourists.

In summary, Cyprus aims to boost its winter tourism, with increased air capacity and efforts to enhance the overall tourist experience during the colder months. Collaboration between stakeholders and improvements in marketing and infrastructure are crucial steps in achieving this goal.

[This article was translated from its Greek original]

Cyprus  |  airlines  |  hotels  |  tourism  |  holidays  |  economy

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