NICOSIA – With tourism a driving factor in bring Cyprus back to prosperity four years after a banking crisis almost sank the economy, the head of Cyprus’ Association of Travel Agents (ACTA) said a national strategy could bring more than five million visitors a year by 2030.
Speaking during ACTA’s annual general conference, Dinos Kakouras said the island – not counting the northern third occupied by Turkey since an unlawful 1974 invasion – could be a year-round destination and not just a summer hot spot, the Cyprus Mail reported.
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Energy Minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis said a public consultation for the strategy is set to take place in October, aimed at getting advice from specialized services, local communities, business persons and any other interested parties.
He said there had been a 66 percent increase in winter tourism from 2013 to this year, citing major projects such as a casino, marine facilities, golf courses and liberalizing flights and tourism packages.
Lakkotrypis said ACTA had a crucial role to play in Cyprus’ tourism growth, particularly after a 32 percent increase in tourist arrivals between 2013-16 brought in 2.4 billion euros ($2.86 billion) in 2016.
He also called on the group to back government legislation in Parliament to create the position of Undersecretary of Tourism after noting that 2017 was a banner year for tourism with nearly 1 billion euros ($1.19 billion) brought in during the first six months, ahead of the major summer season period.
Calling for the creation of a national strategy on tourism, he said “tourism needs new initiatives” in pace. “The aim of the national strategy is to make Cyprus, by 2030, a sustainable year -long tourism destination, which will have the ability to attract over 5 million tourists per year,” Kakouras said.
The Chairman of Cyprus’ Chamber of Commerce (KEVE) Phidias Pilides said long-standing problems in the industry needed to be resolved such as outdated hotel units, lack of flight connectivity with new markets, seasonal tourisms and a lack of quality infrastructure projects, the paper said.