Cyprus: Moving out of the crisis with tourism

In 2013 the gross domestic product (GDP) of Cyprus fell almost six percent. Only a massive bail-out deal prevented the country from being plunged into insolvency. However, things took a positive turn again in 2015, largely thanks to tourism. 

Tourism is a top priority on the Cypriot political agenda because it offers such immense potential for the creation of prosperity and jobs. Over the past decade, the tourism industry’s contribution to gross domestic product (GDP) has increased at five times the rate of GDP growth. This has had positive impacts on the labour market. Tourism provides 84,500 people with employment, which is almost one in four jobs and 36 percent more than in 2009.

The Cypriot economy is growing at an above average rate. Last year alone it expanded by almost four percent. Tourism has played an important role in this economic comeback. As in previous crises, the tourism sector recovered very quickly with growth in tourist figures far exceeding growth in GDP. Almost four million holidaymakers visited Cyprus in 2018 – a new record and a 64 percent increase compared to 2013.

Policymakers are promoting tourism as a strategically important sector

Cyprus is proceeding with caution. In 2017 the government adopted a national reform strategy which envisages the establishment of a sustainable tourism model. The most important objective is to continue to diversify the tourism markets and alleviate the seasonality problem. All regions will participate to a greater extent in the positive developments through the promotion of cultural trips and city breaks in Limassol, hiking holidays in the Troodos Mountains or holidays at the sandy beaches of Ayia Napa.

Cyprus benefits from tourism and cultural exchange

In the early 1960s, Nicosia was rather a private place. Living on an island at a time when mobility wasn’t easy for us children, seeing foreigners was a topic of conversation at school. With the increasing tourism this has changed: For my classmates and me, this was a completely new view into the world. Suddenly we could talk to people from all over Europe. This interaction between people from different cultures is invaluable – especially for an island state like Cyprus. And this is why we see tourism as a cultural experience, based on the concept of Greek hospitality which was so deeply embedded in our ancient culture that it took the form of a code of conduct: “Philoxenia".

But tourism is also about hard figures. For our economy, it means jobs and millions of euros of investment in infrastructure: airports, roads, but also electricity and hospitals in rural areas would be completely different without our guests. And for that reason we approach tourism with ethics and professional responsibility. At the beginning of this year we established a Deputy Ministry of Tourism which is working to carry out the National Strategy on Tourism. To be successful in tourism you need reliable partners. It is important for us to cooperate with the right companies. Companies that are clearly committed to sustainable holidays – like TUI Group."

TUI is committed to Cyprus

Cyprus needs strong partners in the recovery process. TUI Group has been working closely with this country for many years, and it has continuously expanded its range of tourism products there. Traditionally, Cyprus has mainly been a holiday destination for the British. Now TUI hopes to encourage more German guests to choose this Mediterranean island as their holiday destination.

  • Flights: TUI fly is introducing its first-ever service to Larnaca this year. There will be two flights a week from Frankfurt and Düsseldorf. TUI Airlines have a total of 55 weekly flights to Cyprus from 19 European airports in the summer flight schedule.
  • Hotels: TUI Group has a 50 percent shareholding in Atlantica, the leading hotel chain in Cyprus, which operates 16 hotels. There are two more hotels in the TUI Group’s portfolio on the island.
  • Cruises: All three TUI cruise ship brands – TUI Cruises, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises and Marella Cruises – stop at the port of Limassol. This year they will have brought 34,000 guests to Cyprus.
  • Tour operating business: More than 300 hotels are available for bookings from Germany alone. TUI’s strategy is paying off and Cyprus is one of the destinations with the highest growth in guests and a double-digit increase in bookings.

Taking on responsibility together

TUI and its Cypriot partners are committed to sustainable development. One of the obvious problems in the Mediterranean is plastic pollution, and greater sensitivity to this issue is needed. The TUI Care Foundation, the Travel Foundation and the Cyprus Sustainable Tourism Initiative are launching a project to provide advice to local hotels, bars and restaurants. The objective is to achieve a reduction of single-use plastics of up to 70% by 2022. The campaign will be launched in November 2019.

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