Cyprus Hotel Association (CHA) held its Annual General Meeting (AGM) yesterday, which was attended by key delegates of the Cyprus tourism industry.
The AGM marked the 80th anniversary of the association and celebrated the achievements of the Cypriot tourism industry over the years.
The event featured addresses to stakeholders by President of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades; chairman, Cyprus Tourism Organization (CTO), Angelos Loizou; chairman, Hellenic Chamber of Hotels (HCH), Giorgos Tsakiris; and president, CHA, Haris Loizides.
In honour of CHA’s milestone, the conference was opened and closed with musical performances honouring the island’s heritage.
In his address to the hospitality industry, Anastasiades thanked CHA and attendees for the tourism industry’s contribution to the island’s economy, and congratulated the association on the milestone achievement. He praised the tourism sector’s resilience as a key factor in the Cypriot economy recovering in such a short period of time to a level of development from the recent crisis and also praised the sector for providing valuable employment opportunities during the economically challenging period between 2013 and 2015.
“As a government, knowing the potential of tourism, we worked from the first moment for the quality improvement of our tourism product,” Anastasiades told the delegates. He highlighted that this has resulted in developments for golf courses, luxury marinas, such as Limassol Marina, and the newly-announced Pafos Marina, as well as the tendered casino resort. He noted that on a government level the island has actively sought to ease visa regulations from certain countries as well as work with tour operators and airlines to attract more visitors to the destination.
Meanwhile, Loizou praised the strong relationship between CTO and CHA over the years and tourism for providing economic stability for Cyprus. He also applauded the efforts of tourism stakeholders in ensuring 2016 would be a record-breaking year for arrivals.
In his address Tsakiris relayed: “It is particular honour and a joy to be a present at the annual general meeting of the Cyprus Hotels Association which is celebrating 80 years: 80 years of service and creativity for the Cypriot economy and Cypriot tourism.”
“On behalf of the board of directors of HCH and its 9,700 members, thank you for the invitation.”
He observed that 2016 has been equally positive for both Greece and Cyprus, and noted that trends in the tourism sector change frequently. He noted that the arrival of the digital age now means that 55 per cent of bookings are made through mobile phones and pointed out that services such as saunas and hammams now rank lower on guests’ wish list than WiFi and technological services. Tsakiris added that Online Travel Agents have eclipsed traditional tour operators in market share, and that as a sector these changes must be embraced.
“We are living in the conditions created by technological development,” Tsakiris said referring to the rise of the sharing economy, which has altered the modus operandi of the touristic sector.”
He offered a three point plan for traditional stakeholders to implement this a digital age: firstly, importing technology settings to assist in the production, distribution and selling of hotel services; secondly, formulating innovative hotel products that are attractive to guests; thirdly, formulating common packages with other countries capable of catering to consumer demand.
“It is catastrophic to think that the sharing economy is a fashion that will pass,” he remarked. “It is here to stay.”
Loizides addressed the AGM stating: “We estimate that the investments in the sector over the last three years, both local and foreign, surpass $511 million, confirming the potential and scope of Cypriot tourism.”
Highlighting 2016’s success so far he pointed out that the first four months have recorded an increase in 22 per cent over the same year-to-date period. He also addressed that tourism is a vital employer in the job market and has the potential to create even more jobs. He closed his speech looking forward to the future, and noted that within the island’s new National Strategy for Tourism, the destination is aiming to attract up to 3.5 million tourists per year within the next five years.
Closing the ceremony, an award of honorary distinction was handed to Forest Park Hotel, for also celebrating 80 years of continuous operation, and CTO was also presented with an award for its efforts in promoting tourism. The accolades were awarded by President Anastasiades.