The economic crisis in Cyprus which reached its height in March negatively affected tourism in the country in 2013 Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO) President Alecos Oroundiotis said on Monday, noting however that the action taken so far indicates that prospects for the next three years are better.

In late March this year, the Cypriot authorities and the Troika (EC, ECB, IMF) agreed on a €10 billion financial assistance package which provided for a haircut on uninsured deposits at the BoCY and Cyprus Popular Bank (Laiki). Laiki is being wound down and merged with BoCY.

Following the agreement capital controls have been imposed on the island’s banking sector.

Addressing a press conference on the results of CTO’s contacts in several key tourist markets Oroundiotis said that in the first six months of the year tourist arrivals were down by 7%, by the end of July they were down by 8.5% while by the end of August they fell by 5.3%. The month of August recorded a fall of the order of 3%.

CTO expects that tourism will be down by 4% for the entire year, a result which according to Oroundiotis is manageable.

From traditionally big tourist markets, there was a downward trend of tourists arriving from Britain and Germany, he said, adding however that tourists arriving from Russia, the Ukraine and Israel were up by 25%, 85% and 22% respectively.

Oroundiotis continued to say that the CTO has met with Thomas Cook and TUI in Britain, and has agreed on three year plans, expected to be finalized by the beginning of November at the World Travel Market.

The agreement with Thomas Cook provides for the stabilization of tourist arrivals and at a later stage an increase by means of extra advertising. The agreement with TUI provides for a return in numbers as they were in previous years as well as the launch of a winter programme.

At the same time CTO met with British Airways, Ryanair, Monarch, Easyjet and Jet2 with a view of ensuring that next summer’s tourist arrivals will be more.

Referring to contacts CTO had in Scandinavian countries he said that an expansion of Norwegian air routes to Cyprus for the entire year has been achieved from Oslo and Stockholm with a prospect of extending them to Helsinki and Copenhagen.

Germany, another traditional tourist source for Cyprus is in trouble due to the lack of air connections and the unwillingness of tour operators to commit to specific numbers. German tourist arrivals to Cyprus are down by 30% to 40% this year, he said.

The CTO, Oroundiotis, noted, has not given up on the German market and is waiting for new meetings to be set up with a view of stabilizing the situation within 2014 as well as achieving an upward trend.

On the other hand tourist arrivals from Russia were “very satisfactory and encouraging”, he noted, estimating that it is likely that in 2013 Russian tourists visiting Cyprus will approach 600 thousand.  He pointed out that a bilateral agreement between the two countries needs to be reviewed and improved so that the tourist period can be extended to last one or two months longer.

Referring to the Ukraine he said that so far a total of 35,000 tourists have come to Cyprus this year compared to 22,000 one and a half years previously.  The aim, he added, is for arrivals to reach 100,000 in the next two years.

Kazakhstan is also a market with great potential, Oroundiotis said.

The CTO has also met with a number of airlines such as Ryanair, which has committed to a 16 destinatin programme, Wizz Air which has agreed to a three year programme including 10 destinations and airBaltic which has agreed to extend its offered flights from Latvia. At the same time, flyniki has agreed to 13 flights from Vienna to Cyprus.

Referring to 2014, CTO President expressed the point of view that tourism prospects for 2014 and in general the next three years are good. He estimated that tourism will initially be up by 7% compared to 2013, while an upward trend will continue.

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