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Discussions on a national tourism strategy will begin in July, with ambitions to attract over six million visitors annually all year around by 2030, President Nicos Anastasiades said on Monday.

In his speech at the Cyprus hotel association (Pasyxe) annual general meeting by Energy Minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis, Anastasiades outlined his vision stating that in the next 13 years, Cyprus should be attracting more tourists throughout the whole year.

The national strategy is to create a concrete plan, with the budget and deadlines on how it would be achieved, which will also boost businesses, the environment and the economy. With over 450 million euros having been invested in the country, Anastasiades added that big investments across the whole island such as the Ayia Napa and Paralimni marinas, the Larnaca port and marina developments and the casino in Limassol should all contribute to the improvement of the quality of tourism Cyprus has to offer. He also briefly mentioned that a new, modern, regulatory framework on hotel operations is currently at the legal service and when implemented, it will rid the hotel industry of slow and complex bureaucratic procedures.

Pasyxe chairman Haris Loizides praised the industry for coming so far over the past two years. However, he also questioned whether all of the large investments will be enough to guarantee success in that regard, if other competing destinations were to become politically stable. Loizides also noted that winter tourism has increased significantly, with a 23% increase in 2016 in comparison to 2015 and a 54% increase compared to 2014.

The chairman of the Cyprus Tourism Organisation, Angelos Loizou, said that Cyprus broke records with 3.2 million tourists in 2016, and 419,000 arrivals just in just May of this year. The arrivals exceeded the average arrivals for May in the past 15 years by 150,000 tourists. It is even more amazing considering the fact that Cyprus was struggling to get 70,000 visits in May only a few years ago. Tourists are also spending more, meaning that 2017 may be another great year for tourism.

Loizou added that based on the figures by the World Tourism Organisation for 2016, Cyprus had double the percentage increase in tourists compared to Spain, Croatia and Malta, four times more than Greece and five times that of Italy. Furthermore, it was noted that people in the tourism industry shouldn’t also neglect ‘internal tourism’, because Cypriots are also an important clientele. Hoteliers should be investing more on human capital and try to terminate seasonal employment.

Anastasiades also brought up that the undersecretary of tourism, would evaluate a Pasyxe request on creating a Hotel Chamber of Commerce, highlighting the importance of the role.

During the event, former Interior Minister Socrates Hasikos also received an honorary award for his contributions to both the hotel and tourism industries of the country. Hasikos, who resigned in May for personal reasons, expressed his gratitude and said he did nothing more and nothing less than what he should have done.

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