The Middle East provides an important source market to the Republic of Cyprus, with tourism-related activities being a key driver of the country’s GDP, at approximately 20 per cent, TTN has learnt.
We spoke to Kostas Koumis, Deputy Minister of Tourism, Cyprus, during his recent visit to the UAE, where he met key travel agencies and media, in partnership with VFS Global.
“Cyprus is targeting couples and families from the Middle East, as well as expatriates looking for a break to a short-haul island destination. Weddings, gaming lovers, honeymooners, sun and sea lovers and MICE segments are on our target also.”
Cyprus offers balmy year-round Mediterranean weather, and the beach experience varies from coast to coast.
One common factor that unites all coasts and beaches is the seal of quality, Koumis tells us. “The island consistently receives awards, accolades and top rankings for its water quality and safety, its eco-initiatives and the general cleanliness of its beaches. Cyprus is the proud recipient of 76 Blue Flag beaches (74 beaches and 2 Marinas - 2022) -- an eco-label awarded to beaches and marinas across the globe that meet its standards -- and is also regularly crowned ‘Cleanest Bathing Waters in Europe,’ with Cyprus consistently reaching the highest scores in the Mediterranean, year after year.
“Cyprus’ beaches have the best water quality in the EU,” he says.
Aside from its sea and sun offerings, the island of Cyprus also boasts history and culture, making for interesting itineraries focusing on gastronomy.
Food is social
The heart-healthy Mediterranean diet features olive oil, pulses, lean meat, local herbs and freshly grown fruits and vegetables.
Sharing food is at the heart of Cypriot culture and is intrinsically linked with every social event, from family gatherings and special occasions to religious festivals, each marked with its own distinct delicacies and recipes. From hearty meat dishes and speciality cheeses to unique desserts of carob and grape, the cuisine is an exotic blend of Greek and Middle Eastern cultures, sprinkled with remnants of ancient civilisations such as indigenous Roman root vegetables or old Phoenician delicacies.
The island’s longstanding tradition of grape beverage making needs no further proof than its claim to the world’s oldest named such drink still in production.
Wedding and MICE
The Deputy Minister tells us: “While the leisure and FIT segment are doing well in the region, we attract many travellers for wedding ceremonies and MICE. UAE nationals may travel and stay in Cyprus for 90 days. Cyprus, due its favourable weather conditions all year round has attracted many digital nomads from European countries, mostly.”
The total number of hotel beds in Cyprus is 88,455 and about 16.2 per cent of this is under the 5-star category. “There are some high-end luxury and boutique experiences and accommodation in Cyprus, travellers will easily spot these in Limassol, Larnaca, Agia Napa, Protaras as well as Pafos regions,” says the minister.
The minister’s strategic focus over the next decade is for Cyprus to become one of the 30 most competitive countries in world tourism. The team aims to establish Cyprus as a year-round, high-quality destination; a digitally smart and a climate-friendly nation and a place where all residents can benefit from tourism.
“We are working with neighbouring countries such as Jordan, Israel and Greece with combination tourist packages in order to attract tourists into Cyprus from countries where we don’t have flight connections such as the US and Canada,” concludes Kostas Koumis.
Whether a romantic honeymoon, a diving expedition to the world’s first underwater forest or even an incentive trip with a beach towel handy, Cyprus will not disappoint. Here is a little brief about its key destinations:
Lefkosia (Nicosia): Cosmopolitan, glamorous and bustling, the capital of Lefkosia (Nicosia) expertly blends an ancient, walled city and a modern, fast-paced metropolis that is the epicentre of the island’s business and commercial activity. Its offers varied retail experiences, leisure and nightlife, galleries and museums, and diverse gastronomy.
Limassol : The city of celebrations since ancient times, Limassol continues its status as the festive centre of the island to this day and is vibrant and lively, yet also provides all the elements for a relaxing beach break or an unhurried expedition of historical discovery. Expect an exclusive, modern marina as well as rural mountain grape-making village within a short distance of each other.
Larnaca: Compact, accessible and authentic, Larnaca is the longest continually inhabited region of Cyprus, with a history that dates back 4,000 years. Whilst rich in ancient culture, Larnaca is also a thriving and modern European city that offers the best of all worlds. A characteristic feature of Larnaca is that tourists will find that there is no distinction between resort and town; locals and visitors alike can enjoy the same daily experience of a charming and diverse Mediterranean city.
Other sites: Discover the Unesco World Heritage Site of Katos Paphos; powdery, golden sands of Ammochostos; and the pine-scented air of Troodos mountain range, which houses, at its very peak, the storied Mount Olympus.
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