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OPINION

Re-Inventing Cyprus

Re-Inventing Cyprus

Jean-Claude Baumgarten, Chairman and CEO of CREWE Associates, and former President of the World Travel & Tourism Council, is adamant in his resolve that Cyprus is not wanting for anything to build a successful tourism model: it merely needs the right people in the right positions who must take the right action.

 

“The field is open for Cyprus; the possibility of new markets is tangible. 

 

Cyprus must take advantage of what it already has, by using, for example, its fifth freedom rights within aviation [allowing an airline to carry revenue traffic between foreign countries as a part of services connecting the airline's own country].

 

The favourable four-hour flight time radius around Cyprus opens the island up to many potential incoming destinations.

 

Even traditional markets can be revived with effort: Cyprus must rebrand, and target the upcoming generations.

 

Have you ever heard of Hainan? If you think you have problems as a small island nation, imagine the predicament facing the island of Hainan, the smallest and southernmost province of China.


 
It is trying to promote itself as a tourist destination. I serve as Chair of the Tourism International Advisory Board of Hainan, and we are actively trying to de-isolate ourselves.

 

It’s not impossible. If you show industry stakeholders and travellers alike that there is a market, they will come.

 

Cyprus needs to reinvent itself from being a singular destination, to really promoting itself as regional hub, just as Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Qatar have done. In this way, travellers will pass through Cyprus on their way to other destinations and they can be encouraged to stay and discover the experience on offer.

 

Cyprus’ industry stakeholders now need to work to convince airlines that Cyprus is the perfect gateway.

 

How? Get a ‘hit’ team together. A group of knowledgeable, qualified, dedicated and disciplined people who, each with a suitcase in tow, will go out and visit the relevant companies and people all year-round, building a professional relationship that can lead to professional collaborations.

 

The CEOs of airlines are incredibly eager to receive visitors telling them about a new – or reinvented – destination to possibly mutually profitable ends.

 

Do not be fooled into thinking that in order to build relationships abroad, you need to spend money to open Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO) offices. You do not. All you need is a team committed to action. And do not overlook the social network – it’s a fantastic tool, and the costs of spreading your message are minimal.

 

It’s a five-year plan. It takes time, but it’s worth it.

 

You need to practice transparency and simplicity to really accurately portray to select markets what you have to offer. Of course, careful and researched branding must come into play first, to ensure that all private and public parties in Cyprus are united in their strategy.

 

And if you feel that you need more creativity to be able to do this, then get creative people. Let the younger generations in, or seasoned professionals from other industry factions who may be able to bring new insights based on their experiences. Let them brainstorm: think outside your box.

 

The bottom line is that you cannot escape the vicious cycle of talking and not doing without trying something new.

 

Hermes Airports is a perfect example of a functioning and successful private-public partnership. Why doesn’t Hermes Airports take the lead? Why not start the much-needed task force, from choosing the people, to coordinating, setting targets, and following through?

 

My message to you, Cyprus, is that you know what you have to do. Now, do it.”

 

Jean-Claude Baumgarten spoke at Hermes Airports’ and PWC Cyprus’ joint venture, ‘Air Connectivity Development for Cyprus through Change, Cooperation and Innovation’, held at the Filoxenia Conference Centre on January 9, 2014.

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