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Returning British tourists boost Cyprus holiday arrivals

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In March, thousands of British tourists returned to the island for a holiday break, helping arrivals recover to their best level in three COVID-affected years.

Arrivals from the United Kingdom – the island’s largest market – were the main source of tourism in March, with a share of 34.8% (44,829), the Cyprus statistical service said Thursday.

They were followed by arrivals from Greece with 9.9% (12,810), Israel 8.6% (11,122), Germany 8,2% (10,592) and Poland with 7.6% (9.805).

The total arrivals of tourists reached 128,840 in March from 8,811 in the same month of 2021 and 55,342 in 2020.

In 2019 March, the figure was a higher 169,934, with over 63,000 British holidaymakers coming.

Post-2019, tourist arrivals have been severely affected by COVID-19 travel restrictions, and in 2020 Cyprus closed its airports for several months.

For the first three months, January – March 2022, arrivals of tourists totalled 244,705 compared to 17,747 in the same period of 2021, 246,556 in 2020, and 357,475 in pre-COVID 2019.

Pre-COVID, over 53% of Cyprus’ four million tourists in 2019 came from the UK (33.5%) and Russia (19.7%).

Due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, no tourists from those countries are expected this summer – a loss of over 800,000 visitors.

Cyprus had three successive boom years before the pandemic, with British arrivals peaking at 1.4 mln.

COVID-19 battered tourism began its recovery in 2021, but arrivals of holidaymakers were still 50% below the pre-pandemic record of 3.97 million.

Under normal circumstances, income generated from tourism contributes around 15% to GDP.

Cyprus lifted most of its COVID-19 travel restrictions on 18 April, scrapping its passenger locator form (flight pass) and colour-coded country risk assessment.

It no longer requires arrivals to complete a passenger locator form before boarding an aircraft, and countries will not be categorised by their COVID-risk level.

Vaccinated passengers are no longer required to take any action to board a flight to the Mediterranean island; unvaccinated travellers are required to carry a negative 24-hour rapid test or 72-hour PCR test.

Cyprus has reported 1,006 deaths and 470,319 infections since the pandemic began in March 2019.