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Savvas Perdios: March will not be an easy month, business travel is always the first to suffer

Savvas Perdios: March will not be an easy month, business travel is always the first to suffer

Cyprus` tourism sector is experiencing a slowdown due to the coronavirus developments, Tourism Deputy Minister Savvas Perdios has told CNA, noting however that during his visit in Berlin these days he has received positive messages as regards the summer season, since no airline or tour operator has cancelled any of its scheduled flights or holiday packages based on developments so far.


Replying to CNA questions, Perdios, who is still in the German capital, said that the Deputy Ministry`s goal is for tourist arrivals in 2020 to remain in similar levels with those of last year, stressing that "we will work hard" to achieve this. At the same time, he warned that it is important during this "sensitive period" to "maintain our levelheadedness" and to continue to work hard, to follow all hygiene and precautionary rules in place in the hotel and restaurant sectors, in the entire tourist sector both as regards staff and visitors.


"I wish to assure everyone that the Deputy Ministry will continue to closely monitor the situation," he stressed.


Asked about his decision to travel to Berlin despite the cancellation of the important tourist expo ITB due to the coronavirus, the Deputy Minister noted that the "the decision to come to Germany was immediate." It was, he added, "a plan B and we had decided that even if ITB were to be cancelled we would come."


As he said, they spoke with Cyprus` partners, they kept all meetings they had scheduled and that he would travel to other cities to have meetings with representatives from companies who did not go to Berlin. "Tomorrow morning we are flying to Munich, precisely to meet with partners who did not come to Berlin," he pointed out.


Replying to a question as to who he has met with Perdios said "we saw everyone".  According to him, among others, they met with tour operators TUI, DER Touristik, Schauinsland and FTI, airlines and the German Tourist Agencies Association, because "we wanted to have a fuller picture not just of what goes on in Cyprus but also abroad."


Referring to reservations so far for Cyprus, the Deputy Tourism Minister noted that "the flow of reservations until the end of February was impressive." As he told CNA "we have started the year with very good omens, not just from Germany but also from the British market despite Brexit."


However, he added, "in recent days, clearly due to the coronavirus the rate of reservations has dropped." We had a slowdown, he said, expressing the view that this will continue in the coming weeks. "March will not be an easy month," he noted.


Perdios said it takes "great strength to remain levelheaded," and added that the Deputy Ministry is trying to see the positive side of things such as the fact that as a destination "we will be affected less than others."


Asked whether there have been cancellations of arrivals, he said that there have been some cancellations especially for conferences, clarifying at the same time that this is something normal since even expositions have been cancelled. "Business travel is always the first to suffer," he explained.


Things are different however as regards leisure travel, he said, adding that travel plans may be cancelled now but the trip may take place later and that there are ways to react.


Asked what they take away from their meetings so far in Berlin, Perdios noted that "we have taken away two very important things," one positive and one negative.


"The negative was that this is a very sensitive period and hence the slowdown (in reservations), which means that in the next two months all destinations must work very hard to attract customers through last minute bookings and Cyprus is not the only one in this position, there are also other destinations," he said.


As he said the Deputy Ministry is continuously in touch with actors both in Cyprus and abroad, stressing that as a small country Cyprus has the advantage that it can be in constant touch will all tourism actors and partners, something which other larger competitor destinations do not have. "We make the most of this advantage," he added.


Perdios also noted that "the effort must be coordinated and no-one can act alone, therefore we will continue in a coordinated manner, aiming for the best possible outcome."


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