COVID-19 battered Cyprus tourism began its recovery in 2021, but arrivals of holidaymakers to the Mediterranean island were still 50% below the pre-pandemic record of four million, official data showed Thursday.
Last year, 1.93 million tourists visited Cyprus, a spike of 206.7% since 2020 when the island banned commercial flights from March to June to contain the coronavirus pandemic.
Tourism was severely affected following lockdown measures taken by Cyprus to contain the spread of COVID-19 when the pandemic began in 2020.
Compared to 2019 – when a record 3.97 million tourists arrived –there was a 51.3% decline last year.
In December alone, tourist arrivals reached 96,928, up from 9,682 in December 2020 and down from 110,330 in the same month of 2019.
Tourists from the United Kingdom were the main source of visitors in December, with a share of 19.8% (19,199), the Cyprus Statistical Service said.
Then came arrivals from Greece with 12.8% (12.420), Russia 9.5% (9,234), Poland 7.2% (6.989), Germany 6.8% (6.618) and Ukraine with 6.4% (6,169).
Due to coronavirus restrictions, tourist arrivals plunged by 84.1% in 2020 from 3.97 mln tourists in 2019, marking Cyprus’ worst tourist season.
British tourists made up one-third of all tourist arrivals in pre-COVID 2019.
The pandemic ended four successive record years of tourist arrivals that helped Cyprus emerge from a financial crisis in 2013.
Income from tourism in 2020 declined to its lowest point since 1999 when such data was collected.
A mixture of national lockdowns, quarantine and travel restrictions has decimated the island’s tourism industry which generated €2.68 bln in 2019 on record arrivals.
Under normal circumstances, income generated from tourism contributes around 15% to GDP.
Pre-COVID, over 53% of Cyprus’ four million tourists in 2019 came from the UK (33.5%) and Russia (19.7%).
Cyprus had three successive boom years before the pandemic, with British arrivals peaking at 1.4 million.