Seeking to promote the hidden charms of Cyprus through domestic tourism, extend the tourist period and help the struggling economy, the CTO yesterday launched its “Short escapes, Great discoveries” campaign for local residents.
The programme was first launched in 2008/2009 as part of the organisation’s tourism strategy aiming to boost domestic tourism and combat a seasonality problem which undermines the survival of small businesses during winter.
The campaign also aspires to encourage locals to experience Cyprus through traditional products and visits to secluded areas.
CTO Director-General Marios Hannides said that by participating in the programme, locals can act as ambassadors for the island and help the organisation’s promotional efforts.
Alternative forms of tourism can help develop small businesses and attract quality tourism, which is the ultimate aim, he told a press conference. Moreover, it gives local residents the opportunity to enjoy good quality holidays at low prices.
“It is through the promotion of domestic tourism that we can develop agrotourism and the rural areas.”
Within this programme, the CTO has managed to coordinate and develop the Wine Routes, with all wineries in the villages on the map now having the same opening hours. They have also managed to develop the religious routes.
The need to support domestic tourism resulted from the implementation of the sustainability principle which is key to the effective implementation of the CTO’s tourism strategy.
In relation to the first campaign in 2008, the programme saw a notable increase in the number of participants recorded in the last phase that was completed in June 2013.
Tourism Director Annita Demetriadou said there was a small decrease in visitors who participated in the programme last year, but said this was normal taking into consideration the financial crisis and the situation in March and April 2013 where no reservations were taken because of the collapse of the banking sector.
The short breaks are combined with CTO-subsidised excursions – many of them completely free.
In 2011/2012, a total of 3,348 signed up for the short breaks, if which 2,479 participated in the CTO-subsidised excursions. In 2012/2013 the number of visitors slipped to 2,681 of whom 2,115 participated in the excursions.
She added that the new programme for the upcoming winter period includes more participating hotels and restaurants/taverns. Also there has been a reduction in prices that amounts to €5 per person for hotel packages and other types of accommodation for December to February.
Full report in Wednesday's Cyprus Daily