Cyprus tourism goes from bad to good

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Cyprus’ tourism sector is starting to recover its losses from the pandemic, with arrivals approaching 2019’s record levels despite fewer visitors from Russia.

Deputy Minister of Tourism Savvas Perdios said on Wednesday that more than half a million people had visited the island in the first four months of the year, Reuters reported.

“That represents about 80% of arrivals in 2019, which was a record.

“That we are at 80% of 2019 arrivals gives us some courage that it won’t be the tragic year (that) many may have expected.

“It won’t be a brilliant year, but it will be a good one,” Perdios said.

About 20% of Cyprus’ tourists have come from Russia in recent years, with Ukrainians accounting for around 2.4%.

Both markets have been severely disrupted after Russia invaded Ukraine in February.

As well as supporting traditional markets like France, Switzerland, Austria and Scandinavia, in the last three years, authorities have focused on developing new markets.

Perdios said those efforts were starting to bear fruit.

Just under 4 million tourists visited Cyprus in 2019, with arrivals slumping over the following two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The UK market is the island’s largest, making up a third of all arrivals.

Cyprus’ economy relies heavily on air transport, with aviation and tourism contributing more than 20% of GDP.

Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos said a “very focused and effective management strategy in mitigating the impacts of the pandemic” managed to rank Cyprus sixth in Europe for the lowest percentage decrease in aviation movement.

“We achieved this by offering airlines an intuitive incentive scheme that allowed them to include new routes to and from Cyprus and share the risk with the Government.”