Paphos tourism board cautiously optimistic despite challenges

March 6, 2024

Executive Manager of the Paphos Regional Tourism Board (Etap) Nasos Hadjigeorgiou has expressed cautious optimism about this year’s winter tourist season, despite acknowledging challenges and fluctuations in reservations from key markets.

In statements made to the Cyprus News Agency (CNA), Hadjigeorgiou said that flight schedules to Paphos are at high levels this year, reaching the best in recent times, excluding the Israeli market.

However, he noted that there is currently a slowdown in reservation flow from significant tourism markets, such as the United Kingdom and Germany.

He further added that April, in particular, shows a notable slowdown, noting that bearing the current numbers in mind, there might be possible losses in the first quarter compared to 2023 and 2019.

At the same, Hadjigeorgiou stated that Etap Paphos has “a different estimation regarding the losses from the Israeli market compared to other entities”.

He said that “flights to Larnaca are already in operation, while other airlines are waiting to commence as soon as conditions permit”. He also expressed hope for the resumption of flights to Paphos airport as soon as possible.

“Our information indicates that after April, the reservation flow, in general, is developing normally, at satisfactory levels, until today,” Hadjigeorgiou said.

Moreover, he said that the increase in flights from new markets contributes to tourist visits, citing Poland as an example.

“Since our island is mainly connected by air, air connectivity is the most important prerequisite for tourism growth,” Hadjigeorgiou said.

“Additionally, a balanced mix of visitors and markets is also a crucial factor for tourism sustainability,” he added.

He also mentioned that flights from Poland, France, Israel, and the Baltics, as well as from Hungary, Italy, and other countries, have been crucial in the last 2-3 years, filling the gap left by the Russian and Ukrainian markets.

Poland is now the third-largest market for Paphos with prospects for further growth, he continued, highlighting the potential of France, Germany, and other smaller markets.

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Executive Manager of the Paphos Regional Tourism Board (Etap) Nasos Hadjigeorgiou

When asked if there are any initiatives from Etap regarding increased flights to Paphos airport, Hadjigeorgiou stated that as an organisation, they maintain contact with several airlines and closely monitor connectivity.

He added that they have an excellent and long-standing collaboration with Hermes Airports and the Deputy Ministry of Tourism.

Furthermore, he explained that at regular intervals, they propose routes to various airlines, and conduct various joint campaigns and other promotional activities. He also mentioned that their contacts with airlines, especially with Ryanair, are frequent.

“We have gaps from existing markets for Paphos that we want to cover, such as Scotland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Germany, and from new markets such as Middle Eastern countries, and Scandinavia, among others,” Hadjigeorgiou said.

Called to comment on the fact that Catholic Easter is earlier this year and how it affects Paphos and Cyprus, Hadjigeorgiou stated that “while we initially thought that Easter would contribute to an increase in visitor flow during the month of March, so far, it doesn’t seem to be happening”.

He mentioned that reservations for March and April are currently subdued for various reasons, highlighting the absence of last-minute individual visitors and bookings, making it challenging to make confident predictions, even at this moment in time.

He also highlighted that wars, economic crises, inflation, and the absence of a robust representation and promotion of Cyprus in markets capable of boosting tourism are hindering efforts to reverse the current situation and secure sustained development in the tourism sector.

Regarding the initiatives currently underway at Etap for tourism promotion, he stated that they have an ongoing annual digital promotion campaign in over 10 countries, an investment of approximately €210,000, in collaboration with hoteliers, Hermes Airports, and Hellenic Bank.

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Additionally, they participate in various international exhibitions and workshops in several countries. They regularly host journalists, influencers, and bloggers with the aim of communicating various messages to any targetted markets.

Furthermore, he said that the board invests in attracting domestic tourism through an intensive social media campaign, announcements, and article publications, as well as online competitions conducted in collaboration with hoteliers and other providers of tourist services in the region.

When questioned about the initiatives underway along the coastal area of Paphos, the city centre, and the promenade, and whether these initiatives enhance visitation or satisfaction among visitors, Hadjigeorgiou affirmed that “without a doubt, Paphos has undergone significant transformation over the past 7 years.”

The improved image is delivering highly positive effects on the overall district, both domestically and internationally.

“Both the projects in the city centre, as well as its illumination, the upgrade of the coastal front, and the reconstruction of the promenade from the castle to the western boundaries of the Paphos Municipality, contribute significantly to the satisfaction of both local and foreign visitors, as well as the elevation of the overall image of the destination image,” he said.

“The strategic direction shared by the stakeholders in the district, which focuses on investing in quality, has begun to yield significant results and benefits for the economy and society,” Hadjigeorgiou said.

However, he noted that while visitor satisfaction due to the projects is at high levels, satisfaction with the services provided has been declining in recent years.

He explained that this is mainly due to the lack of specialised workers in all sectors of the tourism industry, something that he said “will stay with us in 2024 and the coming years”.

Original Source: Cyprus Mail

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