Cyprus has been attracting many a tourist from the UAE and wider GCC region. These are important source markets as Cyprus offers a multitude of tourism products to accommodate all kinds of tourists, says Marinos Menelaou, Acting Director General, Cyprus Tourism Organisation.
Q) Do share the plans for 2018 in terms of tourism developments for UAE?
Cyprus Tourism Organisation has maintained a presence in the region through its representation office in Dubai, supporting its role in promoting tourism within the Republic of Cyprus. Last year, we invested in a number of resources and implemented a comprehensive strategy to raise awareness about the destination and its offerings. An integral part of our promotional activity in the region is to sell the island appeal for families, friends and couples looking for a quick getaway from the hustle-bustle of city life. Whether looking for a retreat in the mountains, a relaxing break on some of Europe’s cleanest coastline, or a cultural exploration, Cyprus really does have it all.
Q) How many tourists did you receive from the UAE in 2017 and what is the expected growth for 2018?
Overall visitor arrivals during the first three quarters of 2017 grew by 14.7 per cent, compared to the same period in 2016. It is encouraging to see similar growth from across the GCC region. Combined numbers from GCC countries increased by 20.1 per cent during the first nine months of this year. Visitor numbers were led by the UAE, which registered a 24.2 per cent growth. The largest growth was witnessed from Saudi Arabia, which delivered 38.7 per cent more visitors than in 2016. As we step up our presence and promotional activity in the region, we are confi- dent that these numbers will continue to grow.
Q) What is the marketing strategy and budget to attract UAE market?
Through a combination of press, consumer and trade activities, Cyprus Tourism Organisation is harnessing the potential of all promotional platforms across the UAE and wider region to ensure that Cyprus is top of mind for travellers from the region. Our trade activity in the region is evolving through targeted training sessions with key travel agencies, in addition to an annual workshop which recently concluded in Dubai in partnership with Emirates and a number of Fam trips to allow agents to get a hands-on experience with the destination. We will also be returning to Arabian Travel Market next year, and participating in a number of similar exhibitions across the region, in collaboration with major tour operators.
Q) Are you encouraging MICE? If so, what are the plans for this sector?
Cyprus is a destination that offers a multitude of tourism products, including numerous opportunities for MICE and business tourism market. Supported by the island’s portfolio of luxury hotels, meeting facilities, and unique destinations, we have witnessed considerable growth across incentivised travel, exhibitions and meetings.
Q) What is the recommended general itinerary that would interest UAE travellers both locals and expats?
A key interest for UAE travellers is the Troodos Mountains, providing a wealth of active adventure activities such as hiking, cycling and even skiing in the winter. Travellers can immerse themselves in local culture and traditions, sampling the finest delicacies that vary from village to village. Being a small island, you can reach the coast from the mountains in a little under an hour, allowing for any holiday to be as varied as a traveller wishes.
Q) Are there any new hotels opening up?
2018 will see a number of additions to Cyprus’ accommodation portfolio. Following a year-long refurbishment, Columbia Beach Resort, the luxurious five-star resort nestled along Pissouri Bay has reopened. A new addition will be the Park Lane Resort & Spa Limassol, formally Le Meridien, which will be opening in March following renovations. Additionally, Rezidor will be opening its first Radisson Blu in Cyprus next year, with a second to follow in 2019.