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Haris Loizides, president, Cyprus Hotel Association Haris Loizides, president, Cyprus Hotel Association

Haris Loizides, president, Cyprus Hotel Association, Views on the Occasion of World Tourism Day 2018

Haris Loizides, president, Cyprus Hotel Association, views on the Occasion of World Tourism Day 2018

“World Tourism Day, celebrated on the September, is devoted to the importance of implementing digital technologies in the tourism sector, the opportunities that emerge for innovative solutions and the sector’s preparation for the future.

This year’s celebrations, under the title ‘Innovation and Digital Transformation’, constitute a great opportunity to highlight tourism’s contribution to sustainable development as well as to emphasise the opportunities that digital technologies such as artificial intelligence, digital platforms etc. can offer to the tourism industry.

Without a doubt, the increasing economic, social and environmental consequences of technology and innovation should be better understood, so that the tourism sector can contribute to viable and sustainable development, as this was reflected in the United Nations’ goals.

The World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) considers progress in digital technology and innovation as crucial to combine continuous growth with a more sustainable and responsible tourism sector. Zurab Pololikkashvili, secretary general, UNWTO, correctly pointed out that a digitally advanced tourism sector can improve entepreneurship, inclusion, local community empowerment and efficient resource management, amongst other objectives.

The celebrations this year took place in Hungary, a country demonstrating a steady growth in the tourism sector and devotion to the digital furure. Celebrations for World Tourism Day also took place in other places of the world. In the official celebration, the semi-finalists of the 1st UNWTO Tourism Startup Competition were announced. UNWTO and Globalia launched the competition in order to promote innovative ideas capable of revolutionising the way we travel and enjoy tourism.

The tourism industry has, throughout the years, been one of the most important pillars of growth in the Cypriot economy. Tourist arrivals from January to August recorded an eight percent increase, following a 14,6 percent increase during the same period in 2017. Thus in the current year, tourist arrivals exceeded any previous record observed during the first eight months of the year. The very significant chapter of employment has also enjoyed an increase, demonstrating tourism’s contribution to the effort to reduce unemployment. While the overall employment in our country increased by 5,5 percent between 2013 and 2017, job positions in the tourism industry increased by 12,3 percent.

The numbers are certainly satisfactory, however the effort will not stop here. It is imperative, especially with the creation of a Deputy Ministry of Tourism, which has always been our suggestion and demand, to continue with more determination and will. Digital transformation and innovation should be viewed as a priority in a country for which tourism is a basic pillar of growth.

In an era where only pioneers and adapters to the new technological framework can survive, it is our duty to be leading and not merely following developments.”