Cyprus expects a 60% drop in tourist arrivals or 1.5 million tourists in the best-case scenario due to the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Deputy Minister for Tourism, Savvas Perdios has told CNA.
Perdios said that Cyprus’ basic scenario provides for inflow of tourists to begin in July according to an extraordinary action plan drafted for this year.
In an interview with CNA, the Deputy Minister for Tourism said the base case scenario for 2020 provides for a drop of 60% or 1.5 million tourists, a reduction expected to be recovered in the next two or three years, adding that “changes to Cyprus’ national strategy for tourism are necessary if we want to achieve recovery next year.”
“If for whatever reason we will not be able to receive the first tourists in July and tourist inflow begins in August or September the action plan’s timeframes will be moved accordingly,” he said.
Perdios noted that all tourist stakeholders have been briefed on the 2020 action plan, which will be implemented on the condition that “if all goes well, we will be able to receive the first tourists in July.”
“Our basic advertising campaign both at home and abroad, which will begin in the end of May and run throughout June, is based on this condition,” he added.
Furthermore, Perdios said that due to the reduction of tourist inflow, following flight and tourist packages cancellations “it is imperative to broaden our horizons in the next two years with all those incorporated in our national strategy for tourism and to contemplate how to change our product with a view to broadening our markets and targets.”
“A big change in the next two years is that visitors will be more selective and hesitant in visiting tourist crowded destinations and we should change our mode of operation,” he stressed.
On the 2021 season, Perdios said “if we want to achieve recovery, we will be required to make the necessary changes in our tourist product so that we will be able to attract tourists from different age groups and nationalities as well as different forms of tourism.”
On domestic tourism, Perdios said starting from June, provided that containment measures are lifted, the Deputy Ministry will put in place a scheme for the support of social tourism for pensioners, persons with disabilities or vulnerable families in collaboration with the Ministry of Labour, Welfare and Social Insurance.
He furthermore said that a scheme for organised tours in various areas of Cyprus will begin in June, adding that the Deputy Ministry will bring back a subsidy scheme for “short escapes”, short tours for two or three days.
“These incentives aim to strengthen domestic tourism throughout Cyprus, including mountainous areas, rural areas and remote areas,” Perdios noted.
Perdios also said that the Deputy Ministry will beef up incentives for sport tourism, training camps, culture tourism and conference tourism, noting under normal circumstances these incentives would begin in October but will be expediated due to the extraordinary circumstances caused by the coronavirus outbreak.