K. Koumis: How the records in tourism were achieved

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The Vice President of the CTO, Costas Koumis, refers to the role played on the one hand by the government's urban incentives for the upgrading of hotel units and on the other hand by the movements of the Cyprus Tourism Organization, to create record records in tourism in recent years. In an interview with InBusinessNews, Mr. Koumis also conveyed his estimates for a new increase of 5% in tourism for 2018.

Record numbers of tourist arrivals have been recorded in the last two years. It has been widely discussed that it is the result of unpleasant events in neighboring destinations. Do you agree with this view?
It is true that the performance of our country's tourism for the years 2016 and 2017 has been extensively discussed and has been characterized by many as 'cyclical'.
The reality, however, is that tourist Cyprus has seen high growth rates before the unfortunate events that took place in neighboring competing destinations and consequently the increase in arrivals was not only cyclical as it has erroneously prevailed as a public opinion. The increase in arrivals is due to several reasons and it is good to record and explain them.

Personally, I believe that the main reasons why we have reached the point of talking about record numbers today are the government's urban incentives that caused an increase in the number of beds offered and the upgrade of tourist accommodation, the improvement of our country's air connection, targeted traffic and proper management. from the CTO point of view of the tourism developments of the last years, the increase of the world tourism, and yes from October 2015 onwards we have also benefited from the unpleasant events in neighboring destinations. However, tourist Cyprus has already been on the rise since the beginning of 2015. In relation to the 'conjunctures', it should be emphasized that not only Cyprus but almost all the countries of Mediterranean Europe were favored. In fact, the strong trend of 'Go West' was observed at that time, an unprecedented preference for Western Europe, Portugal and Spain. It is also important to mention that Cyprus recorded an increase of 27.4% for the two years 2014-2016, at a time when the average in Europe was 7.4% and globally 8.8%.

You mentioned the urban motivations. Explain to us why, in your opinion, it gave a boost to tourism?
In my personal opinion, this painless and inexpensive incentive plan was the most important decision taken during the last 2 years in relation to the tourism of our country. It really worked very supportively. The value of this decision lies in the fact that it caused an increase in beds in a period of increased demand, but in addition it caused an upgrade of the tourist units. In essence, the decision on urban incentives taken on a date that can hardly be forgotten, May 29, 2013, eliminated what had been discussed for years as a disadvantage of Cyprus and was called an obsolete product. Cyprus in a very short period of time became more competitive, provoking, again, the interest of the protagonists of the pan-European market.

Analyze a little your report on the proper management of tourism developments by the CTO.
We may be talking today about record arrivals and overall revenue growth, but the reality was not so simple. During the last three and a half years, the CTO has been called upon to deal with several crises and situations and afterwards its actions are considered successful. His contribution to the increase in arrivals and revenues is significant if we consider that in 2014 he was called to face the crisis of the Russian market, which is the second largest market in our country, he was called to face the declining course of the British market which was declining from year to year. , we had the closure of Cypriot Airlines and consequently we were called to face the temporary air connection gap that was created, we had the bankruptcy of Transaero and more.
It would be correct to clarify that the gap of the air connection was certainly not addressed by the CTO alone, but it had close communication with the competent Ministry and the managing company of the airports. Very good work has been done, in a coordinated manner, which proves that horizontal partnerships are extremely beneficial for tourism.
In relation to the Russian market and the crisis of 2014, I would like to emphasize that the bet then was to reduce the required reduction to a minimum and we succeeded. In fact, Cyprus had the lowest decline in Europe at a time when we had to compete with both Egypt and Turkey.

What are your estimates for next year? It was said that the year will move a little better than this year by 5%. Apply;
In a few weeks we will have a better picture, since the large volume of bookings usually takes place in January. I dare say that an increase of 5% is possible.

However, we must not forget that 2018 has its peculiarities, as the competitive markets that were out of the market return dynamically, and with cheap packages, while we also have Brexit.

Personally, I believe that Brexit will not negatively affect the total arrivals from Great Britain, however it may affect the average duration of the trip. We are not worried about the return of other markets either.

Will the establishment of a Ministry of Tourism contribute to the improvement of the competitiveness of Cyprus Tourism?
Undoubtedly yes. I do not think there is anyone in this country who denies that tourism is the driving force of the Cypriot economy. And since it is the driving force, to become even stronger it needs a very strong governance framework. Is it possible in a tourist country like Cyprus, tourism is co-located with the energy sector with which it has absolutely nothing to do, trade and industry? It is definitely wrong. It is therefore clear that serious changes are needed in the governance of tourism, if we do not want to recall in 2020 and 2030 the opportunities that were lost. The creation of a Ministry of Tourism is necessary under the circumstances, as the existing governance structure does not allow the formulation of horizontal policies and therefore does not allow the further highlighting of the comparative advantages of our country, no matter how good the mood is in the CTO and other bodies with whom it consults and cooperates with.
At the pan-European level, in all countries where tourism holds a prominent position, there is a political leader focused on tourism, who is called upon to manage the basic needs and priorities of his country's tourism, judged daily by his citizens and professionals. industry.

What will change with the horizontal policy in tourism?
At the moment, the tourism of our country can break the records in terms of arrivals, but on the other hand it also faces a series of issues that can evolve, if they have not already become problems. Such are the mass production of the tourist product, the difficulty of finding good human resources and other work issues, the chronic problem of seasonality, the moderate to weak paratourism infrastructure, the absence of Mega Events and more. To achieve all this requires the development and implementation of horizontal policies, ie cooperation between several actors. So yes, half the issue is the need for horizontal policies. The other half concerns the strong representation of our country's tourism abroad. Cyprus needs regular and strong representation in international tourism. It is currently represented in the majority of tourism events at the level of Board members or CTO officials, while other countries are represented at the level of ministers or deputy ministers. This in itself is a disadvantage and has absolutely nothing to do with the personality or knowledge possessed by the respective CTO representative. In general, the strong representation of our country abroad is another disadvantage that is expected to be eliminated if the Ministry of Tourism is finally established. In my opinion, the discussion that is taking place these days about the establishment of the Ministry of Tourism should have taken place several years ago and should have ended positively. Unfortunately it is still being discussed with dubious development, and some are still discussing the basics or even refusing to comment. Personally, I believe that no one has the right to deprive tourism of the right to political upgrade.