Zacharias Ioannides, Director General of the Cyprus Hotel Association
Zacharias Ioannides, Director General of the Cyprus Hotel Association

Established in 1930, the Cyprus Hotel Association is the hoteliers national trade union, focusing on providing protection and promotion of the interests of the hoteliers, support of the Cyprus’s tourism development and upgrade of the hotel establishments. Zacharias Ioannides, Director General, discusses the significant growth of the country’s tourism sector.

European Times: What are some of the recent developments in Cyprus’ tourism sector?

Zacharias Ioannides: The tourism sector plays a crucial role in Cyprus’ economy, considering its influence on the GDP. The country noted significant growth on arrivals, of 20% in 2016 compared to the previous year, reaching a record 3.2 million tourists and revenues of over €2.4 billion. The expectations for 2017 refer on double digit growth of visitors, reaching over 3.5 million. The hotels are constantly renovating and adding additional rooms in order to satisfy the increased demand, noting 90% capacity usage in the summer season.

The Association is actively working to solve the problem of the season tourism, aiming to extend the summer season for nine months. In this context, the numbers show 30% increase in the winter season capacity usage, providing more hotels to operate through the whole year, which is highly beneficial for the overall employment on the island.

After the crisis, the country became more affordable, highly attractive and competitive tourist destination on the Mediterranean. This together with our advanced touristic product, the quality services and the safety and stability of the island, make Cyprus a top destination in the region.

European Times: What is the country undertaking to develop the business tourism?

Zacharias Ioannides: Cyprus’ geographical location and status make the country an important hub for business travellers and international conferences. In addition, the country has provided the construction and development of the largest Casino Resort in Europe, featuring enormous conference room and business facilities, suitable for large business events and venues.

The Government implemented the Open Skies Policy as another important aspect, allowing the country to become a bridge for the business world, especially from Europe, Middle East and Africa. The recent investments in luxury marinas, the oil and gas explorations and the strengthening of the banking sector, have attracted renowned luxury hotel brands for high-end and business visitors.

European Times: Which are some of the most developed touristic regions in Cyprus?

Zacharias Ioannides: Famagusta and Pafos are the most attractive leisure tourism destinations. Larnaka also notes a significant growth considering the recently announced construction of two Radisson Blue hotels. Another famous leisure destination, Limassol is transforming into business hub, together with Nicosia.