“This year’s annual celebrations for World Tourism Day, on September 27, take place under special circumstances due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has a major impact on our daily lives, negatively affecting the tourism sector and consequently the economies of the countries across the world.
The World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) designated this year as the ‘Year of Tourism and Rural Development’, highlighting the role that tourism can play in protecting the natural and cultural heritage and curbing urban migration. The objective of the organisation, is to raise awareness of the value of tourism at the societal, cultural, political and economic levels, and the ways in which it can contribute to achieving sustainable development goals. In rural areas, tourism can create significant opportunities for recovery, especially at this point in time, when local communities are called upon to deal with the economic and social impact of the pandemic.
It is worth noting that, the new national strategy for tourism, is moving along same lines, especially on the development of other regions beyond the traditional tourist areas, and specifically the countryside and rural districts.
Undoubtedly, behind every crisis there are also opportuntiies arising. The message of the World Tourism Organisation is that the crisis triggered by the coronavirus serves as an opportunity to re-evaluate the contribution of tourism and to build a more sustainable and inclusive, resilient tourism.
For the first time in history, the official celebration of World Tourism Day will be hosted by a group of countries and not a single UNWTO member state. In particular, the cross-border cooperation between Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Chile, which has observer status, sends a message of international solidarity and cooperation with a view to restart after the pandemic.
In Cyprus, the tourism industry has functioned for a number of years as a key pillar of growth, significantly contributing to the restart of the economy after the crisis of 2013.
Unfortunately, tourism has been hit the hardest by the pandemic, with developments unravelling in line with the worst-case scenario. Under these circumstances, state support for employees of the tourism industry was of vital importance and a step in the right direction. On our part, as a Cyprus Hotel Association, we will continue to support the state’s efforts to address the effects of the pandemic and the economic recovery. At the same time, as far as this is possible, we will intensify the effort, in cooperation with the State and other stakeholders, so that this year is not completely lost and we can return to a satisfactory rate as of 2021.
It is our firm belief, that despite the serious problems facing the tourism industry as a result of the pandemic, we must stay focused on the goals we have set to invest in the quality and upgrade of the tourism product offered by Cyprus, and to promote our country as a year-round tourist destination.”