what island nation boasts 333 days of sunshine with ideal year-round temperatures (62-64°F), meaning there is not a bad time to visit, with manageable distances among historic, divided cities, archeological sites, culturally rich mountain villages and spectacular Blue-Flag beaches?
Cyprus is the ticket for the “Where to go next crowd” that has been everywhere, done it all and is seeking their next “authentic experience” where they can slow down, dine alfresco, and should they choose to arrive in summer, those mild temperatures rise to the mid-90s. Shoulder seasons are optimal: March-May and September-November.
For clients rich with time, a 10-day stay is ideal; seven or five days can serve up a good sample but given the flight time from the U.S. (any number of carriers to Europe have connectivity to Cyprus), the longer itinerary would deliver the most satisfaction and relaxation.
And isn’t that what we all want from a vacation: time down to reflect, discover, and renew ourselves?
While much of the world slumbered during the pandemic, Cyprus’ tourism industry invested heavily in R&D to repurpose its culturally rich potential for the new travelers who have emerged in the last decades, says the youthful and market savvy Savvas Perdios, Cyprus Deputy Minister of Tourism.
“We have watched trends that started 15-20 years ago, such as health, the slow food movement (that began in 1989) and followed those conversations that have morphed into realities now,” he said, adding “and we are ready to fulfill those needs with the product we have in Cyprus.”
Perdios and his team are developing a holistic approach to Cyprus tourism: climate-conscious holidays, immersive travel, wellness travel, nature-sensitive products, the trend to work remotely, to take fewer trips with extended stays, authentic person-to-person experiences, micro-tours with personal guides, self-guided tours with digital programs, and last-minute planning options.
He is counting on these trends to remain in the marketplace and says, “Those markets will become stronger and more diverse over time… I think we can safely say they are here to stay, especially concerns about cultural preservation and environmental concerns that lead to an appreciation of nature.”
Additionally, Perdios has introduced legislation to support and include investing in family-run concerns: “These are the places that define who we are,” he said: “from small hotels and mountain resorts to delis and restaurants, to handicrafts workshops, rural stays on farms and wineries, to camping and glamping.”
The most critical element of the plan to return to the U.S. market in earnest is the need to carve out an unmistakable identity for Cyprus so there is no mistake where it is, what it is, what it can promise and deliver to potential visitors.
At 1.1 million visitors, the Brits occupy the top slot, and for them it is a sand and sea destination; for Americans it is a bit of a secret destination, but for the diasporic Cypriot communities on the east coast and Chicago, which make up the VFR traffic.
Admittedly, the U.S. is a monster of a market, the competition is fierce, therefore, Perdios is judicious in his focus and what is most practical: targeting first the potentially strongest markets with the best connectivity (New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, and Chicago) and conferring with tourism powerhouses like ASTA, consortia including Virtuoso, ATTA, and USTOA.
One of the most significant votes of confidence Cyprus has received is from Royal Caribbean since it made its homeport in Limassol where the Jewel of the Seas began sailing from in 2021.
Following that, last year, the largest cruise ship in the world, Wonder of the Seas docked in Limassol ahead of its maiden season. Perdios said, “Royal Caribbean’s presence in Limassol is beneficial to all of Cyprus and, we were very confident then and continue to be that as a homeport and as a country, Cyprus has and continues to live up to the expectations of Royal Caribbean and its guests.”
On the ground, tour operators are already in place to promote prepared and FIT itineraries for Cyprus.
Hermes Travel’s Anastasia “Nancy” Damianeas, who recently participated in an agent fam to Cyprus, described part of her trip: “Loved the authentic experiences in the mountain villages of Platres where we hiked to a waterfall and had a cooking demonstration at the famous boutique hotel Petit Palais Platres; and visited the village of Kato Drys (next to the famous village of Lefkara), where the famous Bee & Embroidery Museum is.”
Cally Pappas, president of Cloud Tours says, “Up to now, our Cyprus business has been focused on the special interest segment of religious pilgrimages.” Homeric Tours lists a number of variations on packages to Cyprus including small group tours starting at $545 per person for land arrangements.
Up to now, Hermes Travel has combined Cyprus with Greece, Egypt and Israel and Aegean Mediterranean Cruises and Tours tucks Cyprus in on its Three Continents Cruise, but that may change with Damianeas’ discoveries.
“It is easy to visit the entire island and the mountain regions, as Cyprus is a compact destination: Excellent food, ultra-hospitable people, highly trained tourism professionals, gorgeous beaches, UNESCO sites, sailing cruises, agritourism, and some of the best hotels in the world like the Minthis Hotel which is set in a gorgeous natural setting, with golfing and one of the largest spas in Europe.”