Cyprus & World News

TOURISM: Cyprus gets tourism upgrade with junior ministry

10 July, 2018

After several years of consultations, the Junior Ministry of Tourism got the green light from parliament and will be operational next year.

The new law puts the Junior Minister in charge of the country’s key tourism industry taking over from the Ministry of Commerce from January 2, 2019, rather the previously proposed November 2018 date.

As a result, the state-run Cyprus Tourism Organization (CTO) will be dissolved and replaced by the Junior Ministry.

The CTO board will be abolished, while the organisation’s staff will be transferred to the Junior Ministry of Tourism.

The bill submitted to the House for the creation of a Junior Ministry of Tourism took on many forms over the last two years, before being approved.

The government’s original plan for transforming the CTO into a Junior Ministry was rejected by the opposition parties, with the Anastasiades administration accepting the continuation of the CTO, parallel to the Junior Ministry.

However, the government later changed its position and promoted the dissolvement of the CTO and the creation of the Deputy Ministry, which was voted in by MPs on Tuesday.

Political responsibility regarding tourism policies and strategy now shifts to the Junior Minister, who will also be in charge of preparing the budget and will answer directly to the President.

Top priorities will be increasing tourist arrivals, quality of service, and tackling the problem of seasonality.

The Junior Minister will also be called to carry out the government’s National Tourism Strategy and support investments in tourism by promoting and implementing incentives.

Meanwhile, the creation of the Junior Ministry of Tourism was welcomed by a number of stakeholders in the island’s holiday industry.

The Pancyprian Hoteliers Association (PASYXE), the Cyprus Association of Touristic Enterprises (STEK) and the Association of Cyprus Tourist Agents (ACTA) called the establishment of the Junior Ministry a “historic” decision.

"The creation of a Deputy Ministry of Tourism will contribute to the further development and shielding of one of the most vital sectors of our country's economy," read a joint statement from the three associations.

Expressing their delight with the creation of the Junior Ministry, the Cyprus Employers and Industrialists Federation (OEB) said it was essential for the optimal utilization of the economy’s competitive advantages.

“It will contribute towards upgrading the dynamics of our tourist product and will maximize its contribution to the country’s advancement,” said OEB who called on the House to speed up processes for the creation of a Deputy Development Ministry.

The CTO had been criticized as a rather cumbersome and inflexible body that was slow to adapt to changes in the industry as the decision-making process was wrapped in red tape.

The Chamber of Commerce (KEVE) said: “Cyprus needs a decentralised and well-structured government agency, such as the Junior Ministry of Tourism, which will act as a policy maker and implement its policies away from bureaucratic procedures”.