The Larnaka Tourism Board is sharpening its focus following a fruitful touristic year for the city, in a bid to keep visitors coming back for more. Officer, Nana Asmeni Pavlou reveals to Aleksandra Wood what’s next on the Board’s agenda.
TTG: How did last year pan out for Larnaka Tourism? What were some of the most memorable changes, challenges and achievements?
We are very pleased to witness a steady increase of tourist arrivals in our region over the last years, with 2018 being a record year for Larnaka. The official regional statistics have not been published yet, but we are estimating that the tourist arrivals of Larnaka region have reached 460.000.
This increase is not coincidental. It has been the result of a collective effort focusing on changing the perception of our destination by placing emphasis on its competitive advantages and promoting the special interest forms of tourism that Larnaka has a good basis.
I believe that one of the most significant achievements over the last year was the introduction of our ‘Larnaka Aesthetic Upgrading Programme’ which aims to alleviate the problem of visual pollution. The aforementioned radical initiative started from St. Lazarus square. Due to the success of the pilot scheme, other historic streets in the old town are undergoing similar transformation and the ultimate vision is to expand the programme to as many areas of Larnaka as possible.
Another important initiative we implemented over the last year was the ‘Larnaka Beaches Enrichment and Greening Programme’ in cooperation with the former Cyprus Tourism Organisation (now Deputy Ministry of Tourism) and Larnaka region’s local authorities.
This programme included the planting of 200 palm trees along the region’s coastline, the creation of a latest-spec beach volley and beach tennis court, the installation of children’s playground toys in four beaches and the creation of open-air gyms in another four beaches.
TTG: What is your strategy for the approaching summer season? What can we expect to see from the region’s tourism industry during the peak travel season?With regards to the marketing strategy, we are promoting Larnaka as a destination which is suitable to visit all year round, due to the numerous activities the visitor can enjoy both during the winter and the summer period. As for the latter, the Board is placing emphasis on the excellent and clean beaches and the wide variety of watersports, but we want to steer away from the generic ‘tourist destination’ promotion and create a more inspirational campaign that clearly differentiates Larnaka. We thus encourage the visitor to discover Larnaka’s culture, gastronomy, events and the traditional villages nearby.
Our successful campaign continues for the summer season as well, having the flamingo as an element, which returns to the region year after year, as a metaphor for visitors who also return to Larnaka. This is in reference to the region’s status for retaining the most repeat visitors amongst seaside areas on the island, at 60 per cent. The slogan, ‘they always come back’, utilises the flamingo as a fun and bright character enjoying the different experiences of the region.
As per our Tourism Product Upgrading strategy, one of this summer’s highlights is the creation of the new artificial reef in Voroklini area, where two vessels, Elpida and LEF1, will be sunk. Thereafter, it will not take long until a thriving artificial reef is established, with a two-fold aim of enriching marine life and also offering divers increased options and experiences. In tandem with the famous Zenobia wreck dive site (which ranks as one of the top 5 worldwide), the new reef will serve to make Larnaka an internationally recognised diving destination.
TTG: What type of traveller is the region currently welcoming? Are there any new trends driving the influx of tourism numbers?
Larnaka, in general, is mostly suitable for the type of visitor who travels individually and wants to have an authentic and multidimensional experience. This is because Larnaka offers a variety of facilities, amenities and activities, all within very short distances. With regards to geographic segmentation, our primary markets are the UK, Russia, Germany, Eastern European Countries and the Middle East. Larnaka primarily attracts families and couples.
New trends we have lately noticed include an increase in business travel, a higher demand for sea sports such as kitesurfing and sailing, and also an increasing need from our visitors to experience the traditional gastronomy of the island.
TTG: Are there any new plans worth mentioning? Please elaborate.
2019 will bring new exciting projects in Larnaka region. The Larnaka Municipality is creating unique spots for visitors to enjoy, including the complete renovation of the Municipal Gardens, the ambitious new Municipal Market project, the restoration of the Zuhuri area and the Larnaka Club listed house so as to host local artists, a new Municipal Community Centre and Sports Hall, as well as works to make the town centre more wheelchair and pushchair accessible. There are also new plans in the villages or Larnaka region such as squares, museums and cultural centres. These projects have a one to two year span of completion.
It is also worth mentioning that over the last five years, 23 new hotel accommodation establishments have opened in our region, and five more are expected to operate within 2019. This is a solid proof that Larnaka’s popularity from investors, both local and foreigners, as well as visitors is gradually increasing.