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Challenges ahead for tourism sector

March 17, 2019 at 9:49am
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Tourism stakeholders anticipate a more difficult year because of challenges facing the three main markets — the UK, Russia and Germany, Phileleftheros reported on Sunday.

It cited Brexit, fears of a further fall in the value of the Russian ruble, increased competition and the closure of routes to Germany as the main issues.

After record arrivals and revenue in 2018, bookings from the main markets are currently subdued.

But Association of Cyprus Travel Agents president Vasilis Stamataris said coordinated action is under way to keep arrivals high. Air connectivity is crucial to this, he added.

Paphos hotel association chairman Thanos Michaelides told the newspaper that occupancies are expected to be lower this year, and hoteliers are being forced to lower their  prices.

Bookings from the UK are down 4% for three main reasons he said — uncertainty over Brexit, the good weather that has led many to stay at home and competition particularly from Turkey and Egypt.

The German market has been affected by the closure of three airlines. “We anticipate a drop of about 5%. We do not think the gap left by the closure of Cobalt can be covered. In addition, Cyprus is not well known in Germany as a tourist destination,” he said.

Russian arrivals are expected to be the same as last year, but these were 30% down on 2017.

Michaelides’ counterpart in the Famagusta district Doros Takkas said that despite some concerns he anticipated the Russian market to do well.

But he said there was uncertainty regarding the UK market, there were challenges in Germany while Scandinavian tourism arrivals are expected to be stable compared to last year.

Deputy tourism minister Savvas Perdios said he will be happy if arrivals are at the same level as last year.

He noted that Egypt expects 12 million tourists this year, up from 10 million while Turkey will attract 40 million as both markets make a return.

The more general economic uncertainty that is beginning to affect Germany and the bankruptcy of some airlines poses challenges for that market, he added.

Hermes Airports is investing in boosting connectivity and  new partnership, both as regards new destinations and new airlines.

“At the moment there are uncertainties in the tourist market. We anticipate that 2019 will be a year of stabilization as regards passenger traffic at around 11 million that was recorded last year and we are working in a coordinated way for 2020,” said Maria Kouroupi, senior manager marketing and communications at Hermes Airports, told the newspapers.