Tourism industry hopes for winter visits

But it all comes down to air connectivity and the airlines that keep winter flights in place.

October was by far the best month of the year for tourism, with hotels recording their highest occupancy rates with an overall increase of around 20%, according to the Paphos branch of the Hotel Association.

The first weeks of November also look promising, according to industry professionals.
“The figures for October were close to those for October 2019 and in the future, the first days of November are looking good,” the secretary of the hotel organization of Paphos (Pasyxe) Euripides Loizides confirmed to the Sunday Mail. .

However, he noted that the income (room rate) was lower, due to the government’s incentive program for locals and other reductions to attract people.
He issued a note of caution, however, as some airlines and tour operators will cease flights to Cyprus in winter.

“There is uncertainty in everything. Ryanair has a lot of flights for example, but will it keep them? It would be great to keep more flights this winter if possible, but who knows? The number of Covid cases in Greece is increasing again and also appears to be in Cyprus, ”he said,

The problem facing hotels is the decision to stay open or closed for the winter period.
“2022 promises to be much better and year after year, it looks positive. A lot of people are changing reservations for next year, ”he said.

Airport operator Hermes said on Monday that October was the best month this year for passenger traffic, which includes tourist arrivals. He said passenger arrivals and departures reached 951,820 last month (619,501 at Larnaca airport and 332,319 in Paphos) against 867,097 recorded in August, which is typically the busiest month.

Cyprus, especially Paphos, received visitors mainly from the UK and Russia. France, Poland and Israel, which reserve all places, including bed and breakfast hotels as well as Airbnb and private villas, the president of the Sykap restaurant / leisure federation, Fitos Thrassyvoulou, told the newspaper.

“It has also helped 400,000 residents vacation at home over the past three months. All of these factors help restaurants and places of recreation, ”he said.

The season ran from August to today and October has been “very pleasant”, he said, and the area has been busy and with a different “type” of visitor with people booking flights. direct and finding their own accommodation, not just the usual all-inclusive vacations in hotels which negatively impact restaurants and bars.

“This model has been broken,” he said.

“People spent money that helped businesses survive.”
This “good base” must be built and the federation met with the Ministry of Transport last week to request that the incentive plan currently in place which provides subsidies to passengers based on aircraft load rates. , continues beyond the end of this year, he noted.
“We hope that the program can continue until March 2022,” he said.

It was initially implemented on July 1, 2020 to be in effect until December 2020. It was extended until June 30, 2021 after approval by the European Commission as a temporary state aid measure. to support the economy during the pandemic. In June, the government approved an extension until the end of 2021.

The ministry said the program has helped restore Cyprus’s air connectivity with Europe and the rest of the world and has also supported the Cypriot economy.
Cyprus, Greece, Slovakia, Hungary, Poland, Lithuania, Estonia and Romania, all called for the commission’s temporary support for air connectivity to be extended beyond 2021.

“It will be a good development if the weather continues as it is, and we can expect some guests during this time. The Ministry of Tourism is working hard to open up long-stay destinations for the winter like many years ago, ”Thrassyvoulou said.

These come mainly from Finland. Norway and Sweden who will come three months in a row. The weather here is good and the cost of staying here is cheaper than in their own country, he said.
The head of the Paphos Regional Tourism Council, Nasos Hadjigeorgiou, said that traditionally in September and October, Paphos attracts “high-end” customers who like to spend money, and this phenomenon has been repeated this year as well.

The main nationalities choosing Paphos so far have been Russians, British, Israelis and Germans, with the Baltic and Central European countries making up the rest.
“Per capita spending in retail gives us an indication that per capita spending increased in September and October compared to the rest of the months of this year.”

Arrivals will drop dramatically and many hotels will close for the winter, but there is a good airline presence at Paphos International Airport.

A winter boom is not expected, although the European Travel Commission (ETC) has found that two in three

Europeans plan to travel within the next six months, which is encouraging, Hadjigeorgiou said.
Another possible boost is the extension of the domestic tourism incentive program where the government covers 25 percent of the total cost of hotel stay for residents vaccinated at tourist establishments that have been registered under the scheme. plan with the deputy tourism ministry. The government announced Thursday that the extended program will run until March 31, 2022.

And looking forward to next year, the signs look good – so far.

“Our target is 2022 and preliminary planning looks positive with airlines, connections and numbers,” Hadjigeorgiou said. “However, it is very early to predict.”