#Voices of Travel: Now is the time to revise future plans, explains Hrach Kalsahakian from Cyprus

In today’s story, we catch up with Hrach Kalsahakian all the way from Cypress and delve deep to find out what he has to share. 

I consult for Cyprus tourism in the Middle East. For many years, we have been promoting Cyprus in the Middle East with remarkable success. The numbers were increasing year after year.

This year we were planning to open new markets such as Saudi Arabia and Oman. We travelled to these countries and had meetings with travel industry representatives including airline companies. We closed deals to start direct flights to Cyprus.
We also conducted a series of workshops in October and November 2019 in five major cities in the Gulf Cooperating Council (GCC) countries, engaging travel agents and tour operators and informing them about the upcoming developments in Cyprus.
We continued organising familiarisation trips for travel agents and journalists, taking them to Cyprus and introducing them to the natural and man-made assets of the island.

But, all of a sudden, with the advent of Coronavirus, all these activities came to an abrupt end. It is not possible to perform our tasks if countries remain isolated and people confined to homes. Even if we assume that this situation will last for only 2-3 months, still the psychological barrier for returning to the travel mode and exploring travel options would be difficult to overcome in a short period of time. Some geographical locations would be associated with the virus for a long time such as Wuhan in China, Lombardi in Italy and New York in the USA.

The tourism business is part of the overall business activities taking place in a country. It creates income for millions of people, many of whom do not have access to alternative jobs and cannot earn money by staying at home. As a consultancy working with government tourism boards, we understand that there is not much to do in this respect. We can follow the news with anticipation and hope that countries manage to reverse the tide of the disease. On the other hand, we can use the time by reflecting and going deep inside ourselves, exploring our identities and concluding what we really want in our life. Do we need to be carried away with a hectic and aimless life, or there are other ideas that might interest us? On the administrative level, we can use the spare time in revising our future plans, updating our administrative methods, enriching our knowledge in specific fields. Once this difficult period is over, we can be ready to start a new era with brighter prospects and a more realistic outlook, ascertained by the experience accumulated during the “coronavirus period”.