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Today I received a disheartening email from the director of the Cyprus Tourism Organization office in New York City.

The CTO is permanently closing the office as an apparent money-saving measure.

Cyprus, an island nation in the Mediterranean, is closing its New York tourist office.

Cyprus, an island nation in the eastern Mediterranean, is closing its New York tourist office.

The Republic of Cyprus, like Greece and some other southern European countries, has been undergoing fiscal crisis of late, and I’m sure that keeping a New York office in operation has proved expensive.

Still, this action seems incredibly short-sighted to me.

Cyprus is one of the most alluring countries to visit in all of Europe, but I think it’s safe to say that it’s off the beaten track and overlooked by most Americans.

The island is a popular sun-and-sea escape for northern Europeans, but there’s much more to see and do there than beach life.

It has an amazing history, occupying a strategic space south of Turkey, north of Egypt, east of Greece and west of Israel, Syria, and Lebanon in the eastern Mediterranean.

Over the millennia it’s been overrun by countless foreign invaders, most recently by the Turks, who now control the northern sector of the island (not recognized by any other nation besides Turkey). All the invaders have left their cultural marks — and scars — on the country.

Baby boomers may remember Cyprus from months-long news reports back in 1974 when the era’s Greek junta overthrew the republic’s first president, Archbishop Makarios III, followed a few days later by the Turkish invasion. But that was nearly 40 years ago, and Cyprus doesn’t make the news much anymore. Its financial crisis is even overshadowed by that of Greece.

The sights of Cyprus, however, are compelling. You can tour Neolithic ruins dating from 9,000 years ago; discover where and how some of the world’s first wines were produced; visit the “birthplace of Aphrodite,” the Greek goddess of love (in Greek mythology, both Aphrodite and Adonis were born in Cyprus); and stop at atmospheric mountain villages for mountainous feasts of mezza, eggplant and grilled lamb.

The cuisine is heavily influenced by Greece and the Middle East (Syria is just 65 miles away), and it’s the site of some of the biggest meals I’ve ever eaten in my life.

My wife and I enjoyed a memorable anniversary feast under an arbor in the southern port of Limassol during a stop on an eastern Mediterranean cruise a few years ago; after gorging on platefuls of appetizers, we could barely even look at the heaps of meat brought out for the main courses. Somehow we managed to stagger back to our ship, following one of our best meals ever.

Can often overlooked Cyprus afford to keep its New York tourism office open?

I would re-pose the question this way: If it wants to attract American tourists — including free-spending baby boomers traveling in search of fascinating history, beautiful scenery and incredible food — can it afford not to?

I hope the powers-that-be in Cyprus will rethink this move before the office is scheduled to close for good in mid-September.


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6 Responses to When a Tourist Office Closes, It Loses Out on Boomer Business

  • Astonishing strategy: Remove the essential marketing & branding arm that has been most valuable in driving awareness and Tourism..

    • Thanks for your input, Pete. It makes absolutely no sense to me. Cyprus needs American tourist dollars, maybe now more than ever. I should add as a media representative that the CTO office in NYC has been absolutely terrific to work with. This is a shame.

  • Sad. Instead of intensifying efforts of promoting Cyprus in every way they shut their office in NY. What a miscalculated move.

  • A most welcomed move to add more pressure for adapting an outdated structure and network of promotion offices that has outlived its utility and not delivering to the true needs of an industry, let alone customers; irrespective of their age group.

    The true shortsightedness as you mention is a fact, and it will still be left standing albeit with a reduced number of supporting offices. We can be sorry about the lost trade and Pr colleagues, but it’s inevitable for these relations to enter the new era of tourism support and effectiveness sought out by travellers and the trade at it’s source.

    Brand ownership, community linking and tourism intelligence are all functions fundamental for the connected trade and traveller, yet none of these aspects are managed nor owned by current DMO structure – then we’re surprised at studies show that 53% of people who’ve been to Cyprus failed to place it on a map. The economic crisis and the millions of impacts surged during the banking crisis has perhaps helped more to situate Cyprus on a map than any campaigns cumulatively made in the last 30 years.
    And do you think anything was acutally learned from the experience?

    Tourism 1.0 in Cyprus died on Green Monday 2013, it’s just that you are seeing only now its first consequences. Kalo taxidi

    • Thanks for your comments. Even if what you say about the banking crisis doing more to “situate Cyprus on the map” than any [[tourism]] campaigns is correct — and I’m not saying it is — that hardly argues for closing the tourism office in New York, since tourists tend to associate crises with “I won’t be going there anytime soon.” Tourism offices are needed to alleviate concerns that potential visitors might see on the news — reminding them that Cyprus is open for business despite the financial crisis. This is especially true for American visitors, who don’t see the depth of coverage on this topic that Europeans do.

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