Easter in Cyprus is a big attraction for tourism and this year is no exception, according to hoteliers who are rushing to complete renovations so as to open their doors on time. This year, Catholic Easter falls on Sunday, April 21, which is a week before Orthodox Easter.
At the same time, the Mediterranean holiday island is getting ready to welcome its first tourists for the summer season. Even though Cyprus did attract a substantial number of visitors in winter, arrivals are expected to rise steadily from April, reaching a peak in the summer months.
The island’s hotel industry today has about 800 accommodations with a total capacity of 86,458 beds. Tour operators believe that tourism flow for 2019 will be about the same as last year, also taking into account the number of new beds in operation. Visitors to Cyprus were 3.9 million in 2018 compared to 3.652.073 the corresponding period in 2017, marking an increase of 7.8% as well as exceeding overall arrivals ever recorded during one year.
The United Kingdom and Russia remain Cyprus’ main markets at 33.7% and 19.9% respectively, while arrivals from Israel are at 5.9% and those from Germany at 4.8%. The big question mark this year regards Brexit and how it will affect tourism.
Other than that, the fledgling Deputy Ministry of Tourism does not expect any surprises as it prepares for the re-branding of Cyprus and the redefining of targets based on new trends in tourist categories. The deputy ministry is also ready to expand to new markets and promote Cyprus as an alternative tourism destination.
At the same time, a large package of draft bills approved by Parliament three weeks ago provide for a series of amendments in the process of classifying hotels and tourist accommodation in star categories. The bills also provide for the reduction of bureaucracy as regards operation licenses.
However, what seems to be of great concern to the sector’s players is lack of qualified staff. Hoteliers say they “steal” employees from one another, luring them over with additional money and benefits. Figures, they argue, clearly show that there is not enough qualified local staff for the hotel industry. Harris Loizides who heads Pasyxe, the island’s hoteliers association, has recently pointed out that the industry is in need of 2,200 additional staff this year.