A new tourism strategy aims to double visitor arrivals, triple tourist revenue and attract €20bn in new investment to Cyprus by 2030.
Cyprus tourism is experiencing nothing short of a revolution.
Ambitious luxury marina and hotel developments are springing up in all coastal towns, plans to build the island’s first and only integrated casino resort – by global heavyweights Melco and Hard Rock – are in the pipeline, and foreign direct investment into the sector is at an all-time high.
Tourism has proved to be the most resilient of Cyprus’ commercial sectors, generating 12% of the country’s GDP in 2016 – a year which defied expectations and was record-breaking in visitor numbers, which reached 3.18 million.
This marks a significant increase to the island’s previous record of 2,696,700 in 2001.
The sector is undergoing the most comprehensive restructuring since 1960, and new markets are being opened.
Also, the longstanding problem of seasonality is being energetically tackled through the introduction of various niche areas, such as rural, health and wellbeing, nautical, religious, conference, sports and wedding tourism.
A Vision for the Future
Cyprus has embarked on an ambitious new strategy with the aim to further boost both visitor arrivals and tourism revenue and create 47,000 better-paying jobs by 2030.
In the same time frame, the country has set its sights on attracting €20 billion in new investment and doubling the share of tourism in Cyprus’ economy.
To reach these demanding targets, Cyprus would need to attract at least 4.8 million foreign tourists, of which 40% would be during the traditionally dormant winter months between November and April to ensure the sector’s future competitiveness.
Developing the island into an established year-round destination is an arduous task, but considering the growth the sector has already witnessed in the last two years – despite a recent financial crisis – there is strong reason to believe it can achieve its goals.
Cyprus’ new strategy envisages redefining the island as a premium holiday destination, capable of attracting tourists with greater spending powers, who have an average per capita expenditure of between €250-500 a day, as opposed to the tourist of today, who spends on average €78 a day.
To attract the high-spending visitor, it is crucial for Cyprus to undergo a comprehensive upgrading and refinement of the existing tourism product – a move that would aid in attracting the €20 billion in private investment over the next 14 years.
It is expected that this type of investment would be matched by a corresponding increase of around 15% in state funding of the industry, which would be used to provide a richer holiday experience, and one that emphasizes culture, indigenous heritage and natural environmental features – all underpinned by a high-quality hospitality industry.
While Cyprus is certainly not turning its back on the traditional ‘sun and sea’ model, it is moving to reposition itself in the holiday market to provide a more enriched, diversified and ultimately more sustainable product.