The Early Years of the Tourist Industry – The Turkish Invasion and the Subsequent Reconstruction - The foundations of tourism in Cyprus were laid in the early sixties. Its progress had been smooth and successful until the summer of the 1974 Turkish invasion. All economic activity came to a standstill and the tourist sector suffered a devastating blow.
The destruction of the country's economy called for drastic measures, which would enable its quick reconstruction. The government decided that tourism would be the tool to generate fast economic growth. This task would be achieved through the Cyprus Tourism Organization, a semi- government organization which comes under the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism, and which is responsible for the planning, promotion and marketing of tourism and the regulation and supervision of all the tourist enterprises of Cyprus.
The Cyprus Tourism Organization was quick to respond to that challenge and successfully spearheaded the reconstruction effort. Soon enough, Cyprus got back on the global tourist map, and tourism became the backbone of the economy and the main driving force behind the miraculous recovery of the Cypriot economy.
Cyprus Tourism Organization - The Cyprus Tourism Organization (CTO) maintains information offices and inspectorates in all towns of Cyprus, and information offices in the major source markets for Cyprus tourism. Through the CTO, the government participates actively and makes a constructive contribution to international tourism organizations. It also participates in overseas exhibitions, conferences and seminars on tourism. These international events also provide the opportunity for enlightening and informing tour operators and travel writers on the efforts of the illegal Turkish Cypriot administration to put into operation Greek Cypriot hotels in the Turkish held area of the Republic.
Tourism Industry - Tourist inflow in 2003 decreased by 4,76% in comparison to 2002 (2.303.246 tourists in 2003 and 2.418.233 in 2002). The major share of the tourist traffic to Cyprus originates from Western, Central and Northern Europe. In 2003 the United Kingdom remained the major source of tourist traffic, contributing almost 60% of the total tourist arrivals, followed by Germany, Greece, Russia, Sweden and Ireland (each contributing about 5-6%). Other European countries, Israel and U.S.A. were also important contributors to tourist traffic to Cyprus in 2003.
The contribution of tourism to the country's economy is of vital importance. In 2003 total revenue from tourism reached CY 1, 02 billion (EUR1, 74 billion), representing 15,5% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and 30% of the foreign exchange earnings from the export of goods and services. The average expenditure per tourist was CY 441 (EUR750). Tourism is also a significant job-creating activity. In 2003, some 43.500 people were directly employed in the tourist industry (in hotels, restaurants, bars, travel agencies and as tourist guides) accounting for about 13% of the country's gainfully employed population.
Accommodation - Cyprus offers a wide variety of holiday accommodation ranging from modern, large and luxurious establishments to small and simple family-run operations. Holiday accommodation includes hotels, hotel apartments, tourist villages, tourist villas, camping sites, traditional houses, tourist apartments, furnished apartments, guesthouses and hotels without star. Accommodation in private houses is not available in Cyprus.
The modern tourist accommodation infrastructure in Cyprus is widely recognized as being one of the strengths of the Cyprus tourist product, mainly due to strict legislation governing the establishment and operation of hotels, which demands high standards in accommodation facilities. The rates charged by accommodation establishments are approved by the Cyprus Tourism Organization (CTO) and most hotels offer special off-season discounts on the accommodation rates usually during the period from the 16 November to the 15 March, excluding the fortnight between 20 December and 6 January. The Cyprus Hotel Guide, issued by the CTO, includes the hotels and tourist establishments officially registered and classified by the CTO in accordance with the provisions of the Hotels and Tourist Establishments Law and Regulations.
Strategic Plan for Tourism 2010 - The course ahead for the tourist industry of Cyprus is charted by the Strategic Plan for Tourism 2010. The Plan aims at introducing sustainability in the tourist development of Cyprus, which will revolve around two central pillars, the Cyprus culture and the environment. The implementation of this Plan will enable the repositioning of Cyprus in the global tourist arena, as “a mosaic of nature and culture, a whole, magical world concentrated in a small, warm and hospitable island in the Mediterranean, at the crossroads of three continents, between East and West, which offers a multidimensional qualitative tourist experience.” The overall quantitative target of the Plan is to double total revenue from tourism to reach CY 1, 8 billion in constant (1998) prices by the year 2010. This target will be achieved through a focus on offering quality and value for money to the visitor, coupled with a very modest increase in arrivals (ca. 3,5% per annum, to reach 3,5 million arrivals by the year 2010).
Agrotourism (Green Cyprus) - The development of Agrotourism in Cyprus began in the early nineties, and it was promoted via a special incentives scheme administered by the Cyprus Tourism Organization (CTO) to encourage the owners of traditional houses in the countryside to restore and convert them into tourist uses (accommodation establishments, tavernas, restaurants, cultural centers, handicraft centers etc).
Currently, more than 70 traditional houses in 31 villages, with a total capacity of about 600 beds, have already been converted into accommodation establishments in accordance with the relevant regulations and received their classification and operation license from the CTO. Yet others are currently going through the above procedure. The owners of such traditional houses are assisted in their marketing efforts by the Cyprus Agrotourism Company, a non-profit association which was established in 1996 after a CTO initiative, to make small property owners its members in order to help them coordinate individual marketing efforts and incoming bookings. The Cyprus Agrotourism Company has set up a Central Reservations Office with a central reservations system and a website on the internet, which allows visitors to that site to book online, with real-time confirmation (website address: www.agrotourism.com.cy). Furthermore, the houses belonging to the members of the Cyprus Agrotourism Company are featured in the Traditional Homes Guide, which is published in five languages and distributed free of charge from CTO Offices in Cyprus and abroad.
As of 1.5.2004 Cyprus became a full member of the EU, and a new phase in the development of Agrotourism has begun. The whole of the Cypriot hinterland was declared as a Target 2 area, and a new financial assistance scheme aimed at the development of small and medium size enterprises related to agrotourism replaced the previous one. This new, generous scheme is expected to contribute significantly towards the creation of other agrotourism infrastructure (such as handicraft and folk art centers, museums and small wineries) which will complement the accommodation offerings, and thus assist in the development of a well-rounded agrotourism product.
Nature Trails - Cyprus offers a network of 70 nature trails, which covers more than a total of 250km. These trails are located in areas of natural beauty such as the Troodos mountains, the Pafos and Adelphi forests, the Cape Greco and Athalassa national forest parks, the Pitsilia area and the Marathasa Valley.
Trails within the state forests are maintained by the Forestry Department, whereas trails elsewhere are maintained by the local authorities. Trails were sign-posted, in order to supply their users with information on the local flora, fauna and geology. In the last two years, several thematic trails were opened. These trails cover themes such as medieval bridges in the Pafos Forest, centenarian trees, traditional activities in villages of the hinterland and waterfalls.
Moreover, two new theme trails spanning the whole of Cyprus are being developed, the European Long Distance Trail E4 and the Cultural Route of Aphrodite. The former runs from Gibraltar to Cyprus and boasts a total length in Cyprus in excess of 570km. The latter links archaeological sites linked to the worship of Aphrodite, the Ancient Greek Goddess of Love, and it includes eight museums and the organization of various cultural events in the localities that lie on the route.
The European Blue Flag Campaign - Cyprus introduced the European Blue Flag Campaign, an environmental information and education campaign, and became a full member of the Foundation for Environmental Education in Europe (FEEE) in 1995. The 'Blue Flag' is an exclusive eco-label awarded to beaches that fulfill a number of criteria, including the quality of the bathing water, environmental education and information and beach area management and safety. In 2003, a total of 39 beaches in Cyprus were awarded the 'European Blue Flag' by the European Jury.
Source: Press And Information Office, Republic Of Cyprus, 2005