In the aftermath of the EU bailout, holidays in Cyprus are going for half price. Jeremy Gates reports.
If you want an early summer short-haul holiday for half the brochure price, you’d do a lot worse than trying Cyprus. The EU’s harsh £8.5bn bailout of its busted economy has left tourism as the only hope of economic salvation on the island.
For 40 years, the Greek part of Cyprus has boomed, massively expanding the supply of hotel and self-catering holidays. A million Britons visit each year but bookings plunged in the crisis.
Noel Josephides, at tour operator Sunvil Holidays, says: “A survey by a Cypriot surveyors’ firm stated there are 252,000 empty shops, apartments, offices and houses in the south of the island. It’s an incredible figure, for a population of under a million.
“The price of these units has collapsed and they must be filled before any more are built. But can tourism fill these empty beds, many of which are unlicensed?
“Cyprus grew rapidly from 1974, with no real competition from other destinations and very few beds on the island. Today competition is fierce from Egypt, Turkey, Tunisia, Croatia and Dubai, resorts which simply did not exist in 1974.” Hoteliers, keen to keep things ticking over, have eased prices down, which is why some half-price holidays are hitting the market.
Daniela Marchesi, for Cyprus Tourism, says: “In the past fortnight, operators offered B&B rates for half-board holidays. Around 1 million British visitors go to Cyprus each year, so their business is very important.”
At lowcostholidays.com, head of product Sophie Cann says: “The market dropped during the crisis, and is slowly coming back. Right now is a great time to go, as hoteliers have very aggressive offers for May/June.
“Our contractor based in Cyprus is securing lots of exclusive offers for us - especially late deals. The feedback is that high season (July/August) is getting full, especially in Ayia Napa and Protaras, so don’t leave it too late to book!”
Lowcostholidays.com currently offers seven nights’ self-catering in Ayia Napa for £269, ex-Manchester on May 29, with seven nights’ all-inclusive in Eleni Holiday Village, Paphos, from May 31, from £420, with flights ex-Gatwick.
At loveholidays.co.uk, spokesperson Samantha Marsh says: “Amazing offers in Cyprus offer discounts up to 50 per cent. It’s still a great destination with fantastic weather, lots of events to take part in, great attractions and historical sights.
“As for tourists worrying about finances during their stay, the banks in the Republic of Cyprus have re-opened, ATMs are working and debit and credit cards can be used as normal. The limits imposed on withdrawals from Cypriot bank accounts should not affect British holidaymakers with UK or other foreign bank accounts.”
Loveholidays’ current offers include seven nights’ self-catering at the three-star Paphiessa Hotel, Paphos, for £179, ex-Manchester, May 12; and seven nights’ self-catering at three star Mandalena Hotel Apartments, Protaras, for £266, ex-Luton on May 13.