By Andreas Izamis
As Paphos prepares to receive an additional 100,000 tourists this year, Mayor Phedon Phedonos believes Cyprus needs an extra 10,000-15,000 beds to cope with the influx.
“The government should look into ways for the immediate introduction of 10,000-15,000 new beds to cope with the demand,” Phedonos said.
He argued that a change in legislation would make available abandoned development projects (some containing up to 500 units) across Cyprus as short-term tourist rentals.
Phedonos believes that, by achieving this, banks holding these properties as collateral for non-performing debts, local councils and the government will benefit, while simultaneously combating illegal rentals.
Although both the Cyprus Hotel Association (CHA) and the Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO) admit that the summer months are saturated, and that if more beds were available they would be snapped up, they believe a gradual approach is better suited.
The issue lies in the off-season where, according to CHA director general Zacharias Ioannides there is “room for improvement”, while CTO’s acting boss Marinos Menelaou said that “it is still not sustainable for some hotels to remain open throughout the year”.
“We have had an 11% increase in accommodation capacity compared to 2016, due to hoteliers taking advantage of the government’s incentives to extend and renovate their hotels,” said Ioannides.
“If things do continue the way they are, we may need to look at building new hotels, there is a prospect for this, but, for the time being, the increase in available beds will be restricted to the hoteliers expanding existing hotels,” he added.
“Although there are provisions to build more hotels, extra room and bed capacity will for now depend on hoteliers taking advantage of government incentives and investing in their hotels,” said Menelaou.
Another issue both Menelaou and Ioannides touched on was the volatility of the tourist market.
“At the moment, we are riding a wave of success at the expense of our neighbours due to the geopolitical situation and, as we all know, it only takes a spark to ignite the powder keg,” said Menelaou.
Phedonos believes that infrastructure projects are required to improve the tourist product to prepare Cyprus for when its competitors re-enter the tourist market.
“At some stage they will be back in the market; we need to ensure that we can maintain our position,” he said.
“We can’t expect a tourist to step out of a luxury hotel to be met with third-world conditions.”
Paphos has benefited from Ryanair’s scheduled flights to Tel Aviv with an inundation of hotel bookings.
“There is so much interest from Israeli tour operators that some hotels in Paphos were forced to stop sales,” said Phedonos.
“Most of the large hotels from Yeroskipou to Kissonegra are fully booked from July through to September,” he added.
Paphos is expecting to accommodate 1.25 million tourists in 2017.
“Twelve large hotels will remain open during the winter months this year, it’s been a very long time since we have had such numbers of hotels open for 12 months of the year,” said Phedonos.