Tourism Industry News
Cyprus hotels urged to lower prices
Cypriot hoteliers have been urged to complement the recent government measures to boost tourist arrivals, by reducing their prices, thus making Cyprus a cheaper destination.
The position was conveyed during the annual meeting of the Hoteliers’ Association where its chairman Haris Loizides said that a reduction of around 25% in tourist arrivals is expected in the summer, warning at the same time that this must be averted. He expressed the view that the total reduction in the cost of the tourist package is estimated at around 8-9 percent.
Loizides told the conference that the international economic crisis has alerted all tourist markets, adding that governments are now mobilised to find ways to support the industry. Governments, he added, have offered incentives to upgrade the tourist market, multiplied their budgets for marketing purposes and have expanded to new markets, lowered their taxes and other charges to make their tourist package all the more attractive.
The Cypriot government, he added, was mobilised too, after deciding to abolish the overnight stay fees by local authorities, reducing landing charges for aircraft, slashing VAT from 8 to 5% and strengthening internal tourism. Loizides called on hoteliers to proceed with similar reductions to handle the repercussions of the crisis and make the tourist package more attractive.
Cyprus Tourism Organisation chairman Panos Englezos declared that the CTO is ready to handle the challenges in a dynamic manner, adding it is a “difficult year for world tourism”. Englezos refered to the measures taken to improve the tourist flow to the island, adding that the government has responded to additional measures which were requested.
All sectors, especially the hotel industry, have to respond to the challenges of the times which demand that tourist packages are cheaper, he said, noting that “our hotels must offer reductions so that we can be competitive if we are to remain in the market”. Commerce, Tourism and Industry Minister Antonis Pashalides said the Cabinet decided on Wednesday to reduce the VAT rate on overnight stays from 1st May 2009 until 30th April 2010. In a speech at the meeting, he further said that the VAT reduction will apply on contracts which are signed with tour operators. He also announced a Cabinet decision to open three new consular offices in Russia to ease the issuing of tourist visas for Cyprus. Pashalides said that tourism is high on the government agenda and for this reason a package of 51 million euro was announced, the CTO budget was increased by 4.5% for 2008 and a further 13 million euro in 2009. Commenting on remarks that Cyprus is an expensive tourist destination, Pashalides said that “we have never said that we are a cheap destination”, adding that “tourists pay for safety, quality and much more”.
Referring to initiatives to help the tourist industry, Pashalides said that these are geared to markets such as Russia, Greece, Scandinavian and Arab countries as well as the traditional markets of Britain and Germany. He also said that projects such as golf clubs, marinas and conference centres as well as the upgrading of hotels are part of enriching the tourism product as well as promoting the Cypriot cuisine.
Communication and Works Minister Nicos Nicolaides conveyed the government’s determination to substantially support the tourism sector, noting that Cyprus has “great challenges and the only way to face them is by determining to a great degree the way in which we will come out of this crisis and how we will further proceed.” He also said that in 2009 a number of development projects are planned, totaling 100 million euro as well as 20 new road projects and 20 construction projects.