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Cyprus gaining popularity as a tourism destination 2009-01-23

TravTalk magazine"TravTalk Middle East" monthly magazine, one of the leading tourism publications in the Middle East, published an interview with Hrach Kalsahakian on Cyprus tourism in its January 2009 issue.

Cyprus, an island with "sun, sea and sand" is emerging as a year-round tourist destination. TravTalk interviewed Hrach Kalsahakian, manager - sales and marketing, Cyprus Tourism Organisation, to learn more about the potential of Cyprus as a MICE and tourist destination.

By Shilpa Sajani

Cyprus, the third largest island in the Mediterranean, is putting its turbulent history behind it and emerging as a year round tourist destination. Traditionally, tourists from the UK are known to frequent this island with "sun, sea and sand". A former British colony, which gained independence in 1960, Cyprus, has been a member of the European Union since 2004. The country adopted the Euro on January 1, 2008. The ethnic Greeks and Turks faced years of intercommunal violence.

1) Could you give us the number of tourist arrivals in Cyprus in the last 3 years, the percentage increase in tourists and the break up of leisure and corporate travellers?

The tourism industry has developed dramatically and is one of the major contributors to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). There are plenty and excellent hotel facilities that cater to holidays only and business hotels or a combination of both. In 2006, total arrivals were 2,401,000, out of which 38,100 were from Middle East countries.

Likewise, in 2007, the total arrivals were 2,416,000, out of which 49,900 were from Middle East countries. In 2008, arrivals for the first 10 months were 2,233,000, out of which 41,000 were from Middle East countries.

2) What is the revenue for the country from tourism?

Tourism earnings represent about 18 per cent of Cyprus's gross domestic product (GDP). In 2006, the earnings from tourism sector were estimated at Euros 1.76 billion. In 2007, the earnings were Euros 1.86 billion. Similarly, for the first ten months of 2008, the revenues amounted to Euros 1.66 billion.

3) Can Cyprus handle MICE events and cater to a delegation of 2,000+ at a time? Could you list the convention and exhibition centres in the main cities of Limassol and Nicosia?

There are approximately 350 conference rooms available islandwide. Around 30,000 beds are available in hotels with conference facilities alone. The break up is as follows: Nicosia 7,000; Limassol 7,500; Paphos 8,000; Larnaca 3,000 and Famagusta 4,500.

As far as conference centres are concerned, Nicosia has the Cyprus Conference Centre with a seating capacity of 1,200 persons and the State Fairs Conference Centre with a similar capacity.

New, high-tech conference centre with a seating capacity of 2,000 is being planned in Limassol.

4) Which are the airlines that operate flights into Cyprus every week from UAE?

Cyprus Airways operates twice weekly flights to Larnaka, while Emirates Airlines has daily flights to Larnaka. Gulf Air also operates twice weekly flights from Bahrain to Larnaka through Dubai

5) Is Cyprus Tourism Board working with any organisation in UAE to take MICE traveller coming to Dubai further to Cyprus for a small holiday - an incentive the corporates would like to give their employees?

In the last four years since the founding of this office we have co-operated with major and medium size players in the market to promote Cyprus as incentives destination besides the established image and market positioning we have as a short haul holiday destination.

Cyprus is emerging as a very affordable and overwhelmingly cost effective destination  for meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (MICE) business.

6) Are you conducting regular workshops or sending information to educate the travel agent selling the destination about the attractions of the place like wine tasting festival, things to do, beaches, climatic conditions, etc.?

We have our regular newsletter that goes to all travel agents and tour operators in the Middle East besides the flash news that we broadcast occasionally.

We also issue press releases, especially during regional exhibitions like ATM or when there is need to convey a message to the wider audience. All information is available
online through our regional website

Tourism Figures
Tourist arrivals from Middle East
2006: 38,100 tourists
2007: 49,900 tourists
2008: 41,000 tourists in the first 10 months

Revenue from tourism is 18 per cent of GDP
2006: Euros 1.76 billion
2007: Euros 1.86 billion
2008: Euros 1.66 billion for first 10 months

See the original interview in PDF format (1 page) here: