Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A Different Seasonal Greeting

I will not be sending you a festive greeting in the form of card or gift. This is not because I am in any way against the spirit of Christmas, I just prefer to use the money in a more effective manner and so bring tangible ‘cheer’ to those whose lives are blighted by abject poverty and fear. My donation as always will go to KIVA an NGO that offers people the chance to become micro-lenders for as little as 25euros/pounds/ etc to men and women living in developing countries.

Here is how it works. A lender goes to the Kiva website which displays photos of pre screened people and tells you what they need the money for and how much they require. The lenders make a choice and pay by credit card. Kiva then transfers the money to a local partner, which then makes the loan to the business. During the period of the loan, the partner provides updates to the lender on the businesses progress and collects repayment, which the lender can withdraw from Kiva or re-loan.

An example of how successful Kiva has been is demonstrated by the experience of Nicholas Kristof the New York Times columnist. He loaned $25 to a TV repair shop owner and bakery in Afghanistan. The baker had received $425 from a total of seven American lenders, enough to open a second bakery. The TV repairman had also opened a second shop. Between them they had created six new jobs and, in the process, increased the chances that Afghanistan can succeed in building a moderate Muslim democracy in the face of the Taliban’s efforts to undo it. Kirstof had his investment returned and he then reinvested in a different project.

I have also invested over the past five years via Kiva in small family businesses related to tourism where the amount of money has been infinitesimal and yet to them it is tremendous and the 50 -100 euro investment has gone on to make a huge difference to a families fortunes, and yes, in all those years I have never failed to get my original investment returned to me.

Savings in very poor countries are impossible to mount, and the flow of International money into these countries is fast drying up. The disbursement of small amounts to the worlds specific poor for specific purpose is one answer, loans made by concerned people in the west in what some call ‘many to many’ lending. In the past four years Kiva is lending around $50 million annually and defaults are as good as unknown.

This Christmas I hope you will join me and the many other thousands of people who have helped ‘make a difference’ in a families life -not just for Christmas – for life.

My very best wishes to you and all your loved ones and may you have a very happy Christmas. Petros Mavros.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Go Greek for a week

The UK Television Channel 4 created what they thought was an objective look at the Greek economic crisis by trying to replicate the lives of Greek workers using English men and women who pretended to ‘Go Greek for a Week’. The result was a less than inspiring glimpse behind the somewhat smug and obviously negative mind set of the producers of this so called reality programme.

In what can only be described as an unusual outpouring of objectivity I now feel obliged to direct the British consumers to go Greek for a week, but this time to go -do it Greece.

British families visiting Greece this summer will certainly have the opportunity to contribute to the Greek recovery since, their government is not doing it through the euro zone, and I now offer this open invitation for all British tourists to book now so they can “conquer” some of the most beautiful Greek beaches, Greek islands and Greek villages.

This experience will most certainly blot from ones memory all the misery that currently exists in their homeland by taking the first available flight to Athens, Crete or Rhodes and there meet with authentic ‘real’ Greek culture.

Going Greek for a week will mean different things to different people some will travel to Athens, the city that never sleeps, others may choose a remote village perched high above the Aegean sea, many will opt to journey from the Peloponnese to Macedonia, meeting en route real Greeks who have never heard of Channel 4 television and couldn’t care less about this type of stereotypical presenting of different cultures- Why? Because ‘Real Greeks’ are too busy living their lives as best they can under difficult financial circumstances, an experience I hasten to add that is now being swiftly mirrored by the average ‘real Brit’ in their homeland. .

The Greek economic situation is certainly tragic, and those suffering the most are the men and women losing their livelihoods their homes, and their pride. Greece however is a country with a great capacity for recovery something that has been solidly proven over the past 150 years.

The German occupation during the 2nd World War emptied the Greek banks and occupiers stole the entire country’s gold reserves, this was just the beginning of the end for the Greek economy. After the Civil War Greek villages and towns were abandoned by the youth either to go to America or Australia as economic immigrants or they travelled to Athens to find jobs.
This situation left behind untouched unique villages that today still retain and conserve a truly special beauty and character with enormous potential for tourism.

So now is the time for the British Tourist to ‘really Go Greek for a Week ( or perhaps a fortnight) and experience for themselves a country that may be ‘down’ but certainly ‘not out’ as the beauty, romance, and friendliness will always be there in abundance and waiting for you will only be ‘Real Greeks’ ready to welcome you.

Petros Mavros

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

One of the fathers of Greek Tourism dies at the age of 90

No,  we are not talking about a travel agent or a hotelier in Greece. We are talking about the Greek of Cypriot origin film director Micheal Kakogiannis.

Kakogiannis’ 8th film “Zorba the Greek” created not only a “cultural phenomenon that transcended filmmaking” (according to the New York Times), but it was the major image builder for the Greek character and culture in the fifties.

Zorba the Greek was probably the first “tourist marketing film” for Greece and the one that lasted for ever. Greece had to wait until Mama Mia musical in 2008 to live again the impact of film making in tourism.

This makes me wonder if there is any better way to promote a destination. Barcelona could not have a better exposure and better marketer than Woody Allen. The “Vicky Christina Barcelona” film gives makes you wanting to take the plane after the lights of the cinema go on. New Zealand has built a whole tourist product and destination after the “Lord of the rings” and proved to be sustainable, profitable and have a growing trend.

Instead of printing huge advertisements in football pitches destinations and tourism organizations could fund culture and through culture they will defiantly get more exposure. Is not the same seeing a banner while Messi marks a goal and watching the whole plot of a film of Woody Allen or Quentin Tarandino taking place in the narrow roads of Lofou or Pafos center. But this is maybe at this time would sound like  “Pulp Fiction” to some ears.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Tourism in Cyprus is a beach pleasure

Cyprus is the safest place to swim in Europe. According to the European Commission, the Cypriot seawater is has the best water quality among the 27 member states. The report edited by the European Environment Agency evaluates Cyprus with 100%.

Despite that the water quality in Europe has fallen a bit from 2009 to 2010, Cyprus scores first.

So if you are a sea lover you have just found your sea paradise. Cyprus beach holidays may sound boring or “normal holidays” but if you search a bit you will be able to discover hidden corners that tourists did not reach yet. In the area of Pafos you could take a bath almost alone in Akamas area, or Pyrgos Tylirias, or even a closer costs like the ones near the birth place of Aphrodite.

You can even join us for a coffee at the Paphos municipal baths where we swim 365 days a year and at this time of the year we take our bath at 6 am. In order to get a great start up of the day.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The future of Cyprus Tourism without Cyprus Airways

Cyprus Airways possible bankruptcy is probably the biggest scandal in the recent history of Cyprus and defiantly the biggest in the history of Cyprus tourism as an industry.
The airline has been for years now the easy vote tank for all political parties in Cyprus. The airline was run by incompetent political boards of directors for many years whose only worry was how to jump from the darkness of a board of directors to the enlighten stage of the Parliament or of a Ministry.

The airline suffered different stages of transformation, all of them invisible to the general public since their corporate image is the same since the seventies. Despite the intends of making the airline a profitable company nothing went right. The entry of the airline in the stock market was a fiasco. Private investors, mostly workers from the tourism sector lost lots of money, during the crack of the stock market in Cyprus in 2001. The airline stocks from 10 Cyprus pounds (17 euros) to 5 cents of the euro today. The state did nothing to prevent it and until today people who invested in the airline have very bitter memories and lost fortunes.
The people who work in the travel sector of Cyprus wanted to invest their savings in a company with future and growth perspectives. At that time Cyprus Airways was the sole airline of the Country with lots of great slots and many promising routes in an almost monopolistic regime.
The scandal of Hellas Jet, the sister airline of Cyprus airways which never had a plane and never had a flight that was covered quickly from the government at that time, was only the beginning of the end. Purchasing 2 long hall A340 was probably the other whole in the finances of the company. The bad management was always covered by the different governments of whatever political colour. Now the situation is dramatic. The workers of the airline have made steps to cut down costs by accepting lowering their salaries and taking more responsibilities but the measures come too late am afraid.

Closing down the airline would mean the biggest crash of Cyprus Tourism. The Cyprus Tourism Organisation technocrats and Board of Directors are under lots of pressure since they have no airline to rely a decent strategic plan on. The credibility of the destination will suffer and the country will lose competitiveness. And this happens at a time when the Turkish Cypriots are moving with alliances to boost tourism in the occupied part of the island.

Cypriot economy relies on tourism and for the last 3 years numbers are not the best. The big tour operators find Cyprus too expensive in comparison with destinations like Crete, Turkey of even Dubai. The possible bankruptcy of Cyprus Airways by the end of 2011 (my prediction is November 2011), will give the final shot on the head to the already troubled economy.

Now, what should we do today? In my modest opinion the only way out the Cypriot Travel business man has is to take the airline sector in his hands. Cyprus has a great potential in tourism especially attracting visitors from the eastern part Europe. This potential can only be developed when the Travel Sector of Cyprus makes a move to find a strategic investor and in collaboration with him get the airline sector back on the air.

Hoteliers, Travel agents and local authorities have an important role to play, the matter is now who is going to lead such a movement. The key in my opinion is creating a new airline that will undertake all the slots of Cyprus Airways in the Cypriot and foreign airports, use the trained staff of the airline but be legally based in an EU country that will assure the flights over Turkey. The business model needs to be adapted to a low-cost airline that gives access to Tour Operators as well and open to the public serious and collaborative web strategy.

The path is long but is an one way road to pull Cyprus out of the Tourism crisis and probably is a unique opportunity to redesign Cyprus Tourism from scratch. Having the experience of the past and understanding the errors we made the recovery is possible only under a sensible and open leadership.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Dinning out in Pafos, Genesis Steak House is the place

If you are looking for a good steak in Pafos you need to contact Genesis Steak House. Jack Koufetas (Iakovos) has been for the last 30 years serving the best steaks you ever tried. Tradition and homemade food in combination with the “old” hospitality habits will make dinner unforgettable.

I strongly recommend a rare pepper steak served with the fresh organic veggies picked from Jack’s garden, accompanied by a red wine from the low mountains of Pafos (why not a Shiraz of Tsangarides Winery) and as desert you need to try Alice’s Pourekia (Goat fresh cheese fritters with honey).
The only way to taste it, is visiting the place.

Contact Jack and book a Table.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Minister of Finance of Cyprus foresees closing of Cyprus airways. Hahaha he is a prophet...!!

Οnce upon a time there was a small country in the Mediterranean called republic of Cyprus. This country thought that it was the superpower and therefore created two huge airlines to fly its corrupteted politicians and their followers for holidays, business and pleasure. Well then the dream went down the drain; suddenly the global financial crisis uncovered the corruption. Left, right, centre and whatever other politicians jump out of the airplanes to blame each other. Well Cypriots are not stupid, we all know that the boards of directors of Cyprus Airways were gaining votes and favour by putting people to work in the airline. We all know that they were involved in commissions even for purchasing peanuts, we all know that the airlines (Eurocypria and Cyprus Airways) were another stage for some politicians to get the lights on them.

Yesterday the new board of directors presented the salvation plan to the parliament with the presence of the Minister of Finance who said that the 20 million needed to be paid immediately do not really guarantee the feasibility of the airline. We have someone to blame, Turkey is the one to blame, Turkey breaking all the rules and all the norms of the EU does not let Cypriot planes fly over its airspace and obliges the pilots to fly around it and spend more time and fuel to reach the destinations (especially the ones in the ex Soviet Union). My question is simple. Did we know that ? We did, it is happening since 1974. Now, instead of having a strict unmovable business plan that included this risk we had an airline that knew very well how to spend. Trips and traps were organised, fam trips and trips for fun were made. Salaries that were paid to people who had less productivity than a carrot, salaries paid  to directors who were managing by not walking around. Now we are called as citizens to pay from our pockets all these corruption. Well I will not, they can come and arrest me.

Next May 2011 we will be called to vote for the parliament, well again I will not go and I hope that more will follow.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Experience Grand Resort Limassol

GrandResort Limassol Cyprus
We are in Limassol having a great training seminar with the middle management team of one of the most important 5 star hotels of the town and of Cyprus.

The Grand Resort Limassol, formerly known as Hawaii Grand Resort is at this moment closed for minor refurbishment. The ownership and the management of the hotel decided to sign up the staff of the hotel to the Training program supplied by the Higher Hotel Institute of Cyprus, a training program sponsored by the EU Cohesion Fund and the republic of Cyprus.

Today, we are dealing with Marketing and Online Marketing trends.

I would like to thank Marios (HR Manager), Kiki (Executive Housekeeper), Pavlos (Frond Office Manager), Aristos ( Reservations Manager) and Antonis (Purchasing Manager).

The experience for me as trainer is simply fantastic, thank you all for your active participation.
(Thank you for the picture)