CYPRUS: Tourist arrivals dip for second time this year

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Tourist arrivals to Cyprus in May dropped for the second time this year, after an unbroken run since 2015, mainly due to a fall from the island’s main holiday markets Britain, Russia and Germany, official data showed Tuesday.

Officials said that uncertainty over Brexit, a weaker Russian rouble and a sluggish German economy are reasons for the downturn in the island’s tourism.

Tourist arrivals in May fell 3.5% to 434,578  from 450,495  a year ago, said the Cyprus statistical service.

The disappointing May figures follow on from negative March arrivals, the first decline since June 2015.

For the five-month period of January – May 2019 tourists arrivals reversed 1.1% to 1.12 million from 1.13 million in the same period of 2018.

Tourist arrivals from the United Kingdom – the island’s biggest market – decreased 2.6% in March, while a 5.4% dip was recorded from second largest market Russia. Arrivals from key markets Germany and Greece were also down 25.9% and 10.3% respectively.

On the upside, there was a 9.6% increase in tourist arrivals from Israel – the island’s fourth biggest holiday market – and a 7.8% surge from Sweden.

Cypriot Deputy Tourism Minister Savvas Perdios has said 2019 will be a “difficult year” for Cyprus.

The UK still constitutes the main source of tourism for Cyprus, with a 36.1% share of total arrivals in May, followed by Russia with 21.7%, Sweden and Israel both on 5% and Germany 3.7%.      

Cyprus annual tourist arrivals spiked 7.8 per in 2018 reaching a record 3.93 million as revenue touched a historic high of EUR 2.71 bln.

A tourism boom has helped Cyprus return to robust 4% GDP economic growth following a €10-billion bailout to rescue its crumbling economy and insolvent banks in March 2013.

During 2018 Cyprus broke new records for tourism almost on a monthly basis.

Income from tourism accounts for more than 15 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product and is credited with underpinning a speedy recovery.