CTO eyes nearly three million tourists in 2016

The Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO) is aiming for arrivals in 2016 of 2.9 million following last year’s record of 2.7 million, MPs at the House finance committee heard on Monday.

CTO chairman Angelos Loizou, speaking after the meeting to discuss the 2016 promotional budget, said the target was to see an increase of 6-7 per cent in both arrivals and revenues

Though 2015 had started off with bad omens such as the closure of Cyprus Airways and negative prospects for Russian arrivals, the year had ended with a 9 per cent increase in visitors and an estimated 4.1 per cent hike in revenues.

Loizou announced to deputies that they were due to meet the Spanish firm THR Consultants to prepare a new study on the strategic design of the CTO, which he said would be ready in eight months, while it had prepared its own internal business plan for 2016-2017.

He said the CTO needed to be strengthened. This was also made clear last week by Constantinos Petrides, the Undersecretary to the President when he outlined the new strategic plan for tourism.

“The resources for the promotion of tourism should be proportional to the contribution of tourism to GDP,” Loizou said. The 2016 budget is asking for an additional €1.4 million for promotion to cover increase expenditure, which would bring the total to €24.8 million for this year compared to €23.5 million in 2015.

In recent years, the CTO chairman said, the organisation had changed its promotional strategy from general advertising to targeted subsidising, meaning offering incentives to tour operators and airlines to do the advertising for them. “Eighty per cent of the cost of advertising is in the form of incentives assistance that we give to our partners for the advertising that they do for us,” Loizou said. It is however subject to conditions, the main one being that these partners need to produce results such as bringing in more visitors and passengers. A partner receives the money if they can show that the tourist flow increased last year as a result of their promotion of Cyprus.

A representative of the commerce ministry who was at the committee meeting said part of the plan to strengthen the CTO would be the creation of a ‘state secretariat for tourism’ that would take on around one third of the CTO’s mandate and would deal with the political aspects of tourism, leaving CTO to take care of promotion. This had been the suggestion of British experts, he told deputies.