Cyprus lacks coordination in putting all of its tourism assets together in order to find solutions that will turn the island into a primary destination.
This is the view of former president of the World Travel & Tourism Council, Jean-Claude Baumgarten in an interview on the sidelines of his speech on “The key ingredients of a destination’s success.”
Baumgarten (photo) addressed the first conference on air connectivity organised by Hermes Airports recently in Nicosia.
“You have a decrease in arrivals, you have an imbalance in season, you have a major market, the UK, which is stagnant, a growing market which is Russia and a lot of smaller markets and those are the challenges,” Baumgarten said.
“Cyprus has many assets and it’s an ideal destination for a European carrier because you take that aircraft, you fly it four hours into Cyprus, turn it around in an hour or two, fly it back four hours and the average use of aircraft in the medium haul in Europe is seven hours,” he added.
Baumgarten who is an airline expert said the other positive aspect is Cyprus’ diversity in what it has to offer in season.
“Definitely, Cyprus has not promoted the off-season period while other destinations in Europe like the Canary Islands, Spain, Portugal and South Italy promote their destinations to Europeans who are retired and want to enjoy a milder climate than cold London, cold Paris and cold Scandinavian winters.”
He referred to Cyprus’ hospitality and openness, its mountains, beaches and golf as “such a variety of good things” which are not coordinated properly.
“Coordination means you have to make Cyprus’ benefits known and ensure that travellers know they exist. This doesn’t happen here,” he said.
He saw lack of dialogue by all stakeholders including tour operators, airlines and convention market as a problem in promoting Cyprus as a destination with diversity to help increase air lift.
“That can be achieved through a task force who will take things one step further and start to organise coordination.”
Although things are currently improving economically in northern Europe with the exception of France, Spain and Italy which continue to be the weak countries, Baumgarten believes Cyprus has to target new markets like Azerbaijan, Ukraine and also look east as there are no Chinese, Koreans or Japanese visiting the island at the moment.
He dismissed air connectivity as a problem in bringing tourists from new markets to the island as all the Gulf carriers - Etihad, Emirates, and Qatar Airways - are creating a hub and would be eager to have more passengers.
“One of Cyprus’ task force role is to talk to those carriers,” he said.