Elena Tanou, vice president at Top Kinisis Travel speaks exclusively with Cyprus Traveller and explains how attention to detail and devout dedication for what you do can breed the ultimate success.
CT: What have been your main inspirations for entering the travel and tourism industry?
Elena: My love for the travel business was a natural course since my family was based abroad for many years; therefore I was traveling all over the world form a young age. At the age of 17 I went to Switzerland where I studied Travel & Tourism Management. I knew instantly after my graduation that I wanted to travel, explore and design holidays down to the last detail for other people to experience and enjoy.
Eventually, I established my travel business with a clear vision to specialise in tailor-made market dream holidays like nobody else in Cyprus.
CT: You have been the vice president at Top Kinisis Travel since 2000. How has the company evolved under your management and what have been the highlights?
Elena: Joining Top Kinisis Travel I have added to the organisation and the team my expertise on how and when to choose a new destination, to design and offer made to measure dream holidays but on a rather larger scale.
Business development was my first assignment which I had put into a different perspective, since now I am with a much bigger team and my huge important network of contacts, friends and business associates from Alaska to China proved to be very useful for Top Kinisis’ expansion.
CT: The incoming travel department at Top Kinisis is the oldest for the company having started operating since 1987. Over the years which have been the most popular markets entering Cyprus and why do you feel this is the case?
Elena: Over the years the British market has been the most popular market. It is astonishing, but I feel very strongly that Cypriot hospitality is what makes tourists return to the island and not our sun or our beaches or our green fields. Cypriot hospitality is strong especially in the rural areas and locals show it extensively to the tourists.
The time of the 50s when the tourists held a camera and were only interested in capturing good photos has passed. Tourists of today seek and search for meanings and experiences; therefore we should pay continuous attention to the traveller and clearly offer the meaning of a ‘true destination’.
Tourists today are looking for the experience and want to get new ideas for their work, find new hobbies, search their inner self; the mind has a bigger thirst than their stomach. They want to live a story in this destination. Each destination offers many stories therefore it is our responsibility to investigate and offer the best tour for the traveller to make them live every moment during their travels.
For Top Kinisis Travel the creation of a holiday is a unique process every time. With the help of our professional staff we are able to design and tailor-make a trip that will be an unforgettable experience for each and every one of our customers.
CT: Which growing markets are you witnessing travelling into Cyprus and what needs to be done in order for them to grow?
Elena: I am convinced that the strengthening of the Russian and Chinese market in Cyprus will create a new dynamic perspective for round the year holiday makers.
My vast experience in the travel industry has allowed me to understand the needs of every traveller, therefore enabling us to suggest and offer new and exciting experiences.
The brand of Top Kinisis is not just an image it is a holistic approach that connects us with our clients which in turn enthuses them and additionally inspires us to create the very best.
These made to measure trips ensure high standards of all our services, luxury, the utmost security and unforgettable experiences. Culture and education are the main elements that these trips consist of.
Broaden your horizons by engaging in authentic cultural experiences as you participate in tradition. We give our travellers more than they expect and offer maximum quality and value-for-money. Building trust is a challenge and by respecting clients and being sincere, accessible, friendly and professional we gain their trust.
CT: What is your opinion on the current state of Cyprus’ tourism industry and what do you feel needs to be improved?
Elena: Tourism is a key sector of the Cyprus economy with significant potential to generate future growth and employment. It also contributes to the development, the socioeconomic integration in rural or less developed areas.
Like all the economic sectors tourism was affected by the recent economic downturn but has proven to be nevertheless one of the most resistant sectors, recently even showing signs of slight growth.
In order to improve and sustain a measurable growth we must do the following: Explore means and ways to develop the infrastructure concerning tourism; Branding for Cyprus as a hospitable and the safest destination for families, women, youth and elderly; A better identity of a Mediterranean island with great proximity to the sea, mountains and developed cities and unique cultural tourist destinations covering religious and historical sites and much more.
Additionally, we must enhance a responsible attitude when serving the tourists in all fields. We have the comparative advantage of our local educated human capital that speak languages, know about trade and management. People in the field of serving others must be trained constantly.
CT: What role can Top Kinisis play in further developing Cyprus’ tourism industry?
Elena: Our organisation has separate departments for incoming business which provide services to groups and FITs, including a conference department which deals with incentive groups. These departments have the latest technology, software and hardware support to ensure top quality services and results.
Emphasis should be placed on securing larger numbers of travellers from long-haul emerging markets as well as special interest incentive groups. Through our Taxidiamprosta website we can increase awareness on the uniqueness of our island. With the new technologies and media that we use, we promote new markets and facilitate cooperation amongst many other stakeholders in the field from all over the world.
Furthermore, our Athens and New York-based branches are valuable tools to develop and sustain even further all our services to potential clients who wish to travel to Cyprus.
CT: Cyprus is well known for its sunshine and sandy beaches. What lesser known features does the island obtain that make it more of an all-round destination?
Elena: Retired people could spend six months in warm Cyprus from October till April when the rest of Europe is freezing. Cyprus is a very hospitable island where locals feel that it is a compliment to them when you visit their island; therefore they go out of their way to make you feel welcome and have a wonderful time.
Cyprus has history; it’s unique and has a special image. Mythology, history, religion, antiquities all blend in a magical way. As a result of this it has been elected the European Capital of Culture for 2017 where a vast wealth of culture combines authentic Cypriot culture with modern European amenities.
Cyprus is an attractive enticing island, also ideal for experiencing its bubbling nightlife and safe environment.
Cypriot has unique architecture which is heavily influenced by the many captors while the traditional folk music has several special elements as well as our musical poetry performed at traditional feasts and celebrations. 10 painted Byzantine Churches are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites which fulfill the criteria for both their architecture and their landscape design.
These are exceptional indications to our cultural tradition. Cyprus is an island that has inspired writers and other artists, visitors and Cypriots who have described and portrayed the island and its people from the beginning of the written world.
CT: Personally what activities/destinations within Cyprus do you enjoy the most and why is this the case?
Elena: When I seek serenity and breathtaking views I walk through the organised paths of the Troodos mountains. The colours and scents, especially, in spring are a unique experience. I also love to explore the old parts of the cities especially during the sunset where it transmits different sensations with the shadows and the warmer colours. I enjoy it mostly when I encounter different cultural events during these times.
Around these spots tempting cafes and restaurants can easily surround you. Amazing spa holiday places around the island give me the opportunity to rest and relax with a vast variety of treatments under the many experienced hands of therapists.
Furthermore, I enjoy all over the island delicious authentic cuisine, gourmet or traditional in small exclusive restaurants where the vast choice always makes me choose the most popular dish at these places. The vast selection of our Cyprus wines completes the perfect gastronomic experience.