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 recognised 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. Despite the above, there is a Strategic Plan, which aims at further raising the quality levels of tourist accommodation in Cyprus. English is spoken in all hotels; French, German and Russian are also widely spoken.
Agrotourism (Rural Cyprus)
The implementation of the programme for the development of agrotourism in Cyprus involved the encouragement of the locals –through a number of incentive schemes- to invest in the creation of accommodation and other tourist infrastructure in the countryside by restoring traditional buildings and altering them for tourist use. The availability of the appropriate infrastructure would enable the tourist to holiday in the Cyprus countryside, and become acquainted with the natural and built environment and the traditions and customs of its people.
As a result of the incentive schemes, 104 traditional houses in 47 villages, with a total capacity of more than 800 beds, have already been converted into accommodation establishments, in accordance with the relevant regulations and have received their classification and operation licence from the CTO. Moreover, a new financial assistance scheme co-funded by EU funds, has been contributing towards the enhancement of the accommodation product with additional tourist infrastructure (such as handicraft and folk art centres, museums and small wineries), in order to make available the integrated rural tourism product to the guests.
Cyprus offers a network of more than 90 nature trails, which covers more than a total of 500km. These trails are located in areas of natural beauty such as the Troodos Mountains, the Pafos and Adelphi forests, the Cape Greko and Athalassa National forest parks, the Pitsilia area and the Marathasa Valley.
Trails have been sign-posted in order to supply information on the local flora, fauna and geology. Several thematic trails were opened up in recent years. These trails cover themes such as medieval bridges in the Pafos Forest, centenarian trees, traditional activities in villages of the hinterland and waterfalls.
The first walking festival was co-organized by CTO and the Forestry Department in spring 2014, offering guided walking tours in National Forest Parks. Informational material on nature trails in Cyprus in printed and electronic format is available on the CTO and the Forestry Department websites.
This sector is one of the biggest and fastest growing in the global tourist industry. Given the ideal conditions for its development in Cyprus (such as the fine weather, the availability of modern tourist infrastructure, the short distances between the cities, the beach and natural environment and the gradual upgrading of existing sports infrastructure), the CTO identified sports tourism as one of the special interest products Cyprus should invest in. Many foreign sports clubs, focusing on football, swimming and cycling visit Cyprus for training, while at the same time the number of international sports events being held in Cyprus is gradually increasing with some of them being already annually established.
Amongst other, the sector contributes positively to the strategic target of alleviating the problem of seasonality and lengthening the tourist season. The majority of the teams, 69% of the total number, visit Cyprus in the period of February – March.
The mild weather conditions, short distances and the regular changes in the terrain entail a variety of different road surfaces and altitudes that establish Cyprus as a cyclist’s ideal spot.
Cycling enthusiasts can enjoy their favourite sport through training or through participation in races when it comes to competitive sports cycling, or even as a pleasant way of exploring the island, getting closer to the natural environment and enjoying the warm hospitality of the island’s inhabitants.
Following the development of the first phase of the cycling routes network that was designed in order to gradually extend in many areas of Cyprus (Route 1 – Troodos cycling route), CTO has developed the second route which starts from the city of Limassol and stretches to Pano Platres, where it joins Route 1. The project is co- financed by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.
Cyprus is also part of the Mediterranean Route within the Eurovelo Cycling Network and it has established close cooperation with the European Cycling Federation as an associate member.
Cyprus is an emerging golf destination with ideal weather conditions, high quality golf courses, hotels and services, ideal for the attraction of targeted golf tourists from central and northern Europe, especially during the autumn, winter and spring seasons.
There are four 18-hole international standard golf courses, all in the region of Pafos, each one with a unique design, offering different and interesting golf experiences to golfers. Cyprus also hosts international golf open championships, which attract more golfers from more than 15 countries from Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
The Cyprus Government, in its effort to encourage golf tourism, has implemented a Golf Policy aiming for the development of up to a total of 14 golf courses. As a result, investors from the private sector have expressed interest in the development of golf courses and integrated golf resorts in different regions of the island.
Due to the increased demand for berthing spaces and the bright prospects of nautical tourism, the Organisation is implementing, on a step-by-step basis, the masterplan for the development and construction of yacht shelters all along the coastline of Cyprus.
Currently, three marinas are in operation in the Republic of Cyprus. The development of four new marinas is underway, in Limassol, Agia Napa, Pafos and Larnaka. Most advanced of the four is the project in the Limassol Marina.
Improvement and extension works are also being carried out in various fishing shelters and small ports along the coast of Cyprus, while the construction of spaces allowing short term berthing of private vessels is under way.
Cruises are a new, alternative form of holidays, and the ever growing demand for cruises worldwide is mostly due to the luxurious product offered to the consumer, who can enjoy care-free vacations.
Taking advantage of the strategic geographical position of Cyprus in the Eastern Mediterranean, the Cyprus Tourism Organisation contributed to the promotion of cruises to and from Cyprus, thereby diversifying and further enriching the Cyprus tourist product. Cruises offer the tourist the opportunity for short breaks (up to five days) to neighbouring destinations and the Greek islands.
The European Blue Flag Campaign
The “Blue Flag” is an exclusive eco-label awarded to more than 3.200 beaches and 640 marinas worldwide.
The Blue Flag Campaign, which was launched in 1987 during the European Year for the Environment, is owned and run by the independent Non-Profit Organisation Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE).
The Blue Flag is geared towards the sustainable development of beaches and marinas through strict criteria dealing with water quality, environmental education and information, environmental management and safety and other services. Being a symbol of environmental quality, it serves as an incentive for local authorities and the private sector to take measures for the overall improvement of the coastal areas in accordance with the above criteria.
Cyprus, as a Mediterranean tourism destination, has recognised the importance of this campaign as one way in which tourism can be better integrated with the coastal environment. At the initiative of the Cyprus Tourism Organisation and with the co-operation of the Cyprus Marine Environment Protection Agency (CYMEPA), the local authorities and the relevant government bodies, Cyprus has introduced the European Blue Flag Campaign and become a full member of FEE in 1995.
The 1995 Pilot Project of the European Blue Flag Campaign, which was jointly undertaken by CYMEPA and the CTO, has successfully established the scheme in Cyprus. As a result, 57 beaches have been awarded the Blue Flag (the award-winning beaches are featured on the websites www.blueflag.org and www.visitcyprus.com).
The Cyprus Tourism Organisation has a strategic commitment to develop and promote religious tourism in Cyprus. Several key actions have been implemented and a great deal more are planned. The CTO published a comprehensive guide promoting religious routes in Cyprus, produced a special film for the promotion of the rich Byzantine heritage of the island and organizes familiarization trips for journalists and specialist tour operators. The main partner of CTO in this effort is the Church of Cyprus, which took the initiative to establish the Office of Pilgrimage Tourism offering support to travel agents and individuals interested to organize a pilgrimage visit in Cyprus.
This is a project co-funded by the EU Agricultural Fund, which promotes the long history of Cyprus in the production of wine, the contemporary wine industry and its future perspectives. In the framework of this project, seven wine routes offering opportunities to visit 38 wineries have been signposted and promoted in a comprehensive guide produced for Cyprus wine routes.
Cyprus Venice Cultural Routes
The project proposes five regional routes in Cyprus and two in Venice combining monuments and artifacts, which highlight the cultural interaction between Cyprus and Venice in the Middle Ages. A comprehensive guide presenting the seven routes together with the relevant historic background has been produced in Greek, English and Italian and it is available in an electronic form on the CTO website.
Conference and Incentive Tourism
Cyprus is not only a popular holiday destination but also a thriving business centre. The accommodation product of the country features numerous luxury hotels, which incorporate excellent conference facilities and a modern and sophisticated telecommunications infrastructure. Many of the archaeological sites are also offered for the purpose of conference tourism, highlighting the comparative advantages of Cyprus. Such conditions indicate Cyprus’ prospects of developing into a successful conference and incentive tourism destination.
For further information:
Cyprus Tourism Organisation website: www.visitcyprus.com