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Cypriots flood hotels for long holiday weekend

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Despite the rising cost of living, Cypriots are keeping with tradition and heading for a short hotel getaway during the long Pentecost holiday weekend.

Hoteliers say bookings from Cypriots have boosted their capacity to 80% over the Pentecost holiday.

In comments to Phileleftheros daily, the general director of the Cyprus Hotel Association, Philokypros Rousounides, said that due to increased demand from the domestic market, the average occupancy in hotels across the island is expected to reach 80%.

Rousounides said this is far above the average capacity expected in June, despite significant flows of foreign tourists expected from mid-June onward.

He reaffirmed that tourism stakeholders are confident they can achieve a better season than coronavirus-struck 2021, despite losing 800,000 arrivals from Russia and Ukraine.

Following the war in Ukraine, Cyprus looked to increase flows from the UK, traditionally its strongest market, Israel, and emerging players such as France, to compensate for the loss.

Pre-COVID, over 53% of Cyprus’ 4 mln 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 mln.

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

Rousounides said that 10 to 15 hotels in the Famagusta area, heavily dependent on Russian tourism, have yet to restart operations.

The increase in local tourists during the long break was also confirmed by Lordos Hotels general manager Marios Ellinas, who said the group’s Larnaca-based hotels are at full capacity for the weekend.

Meanwhile, Cypriots are jumping at the chance to travel to Greece by ferry this summer, since the link revival after two decades, as 6,000 have booked a place on one of the 44 trips.

Dinos Kakouras, CEO of Top Kinisis, handling the ticketing system for the ferry, said that bookings are encouraging, and they expect more than 7,000 passengers will be making the trip between Limassol and Piraeus.

He noted that Cypriots are thirsty for holidays, prioritising a getaway, despite hiking inflation.

Cyprus is witnessing the highest inflation rate recorded in four decades, with May equalling the 9.1% registered in February 1982.

The highest inflation rate Cyprus endured was 10.8% in 1981.