Tourist arrivals ‘doing better’ than 2021

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Cyprus’ tourism chief said he is pleased that arrivals so far this year have already reached 75% of the first half levels of the 2019 record year, and at two thirds of the whole of last year’s visitors.

Deputy Minister of Tourism Savvas Perdios described the figures ‘as not bad’ and that he was “satisfied that we are now doing better than 2021”.

Our aim has clearly been to improve on last year’s figures, the junior minister said.

Tourist arrivals in the first half of 2022 exceeded 1.22 mln which correspond to 74.9% of the respective period of 2019, a historic record year, and 63.2% of the arrivals of the whole of last year, according to data released by the Statistical Service, Cystat.

Tourist arrivals reached 372,324 in June 2022 compared to 184,159 in June 2021, an increase of 102.2%.

For the January – June period, tourist arrivals totalled 1,221,382, compared to 340,984 in the corresponding period last year and 1,631,023 in first half of 2019.

Tourists from the UK, Cyprus’ largest market, totalled 41.8% of arrivals in June with 155,703 visitors, followed by Israel with 7.3% (27,288), Poland with 5.8% (21,445), Germany with 5.6% (20,906), Sweden with 5.0% (18,478) and Greece with 3.9% (14,435).

The deputy minister continued to convey the optimism of all stakeholders, noting that the summer months and September are expected to fare even better.

“But we are keeping our feet on the ground,” he told the Cyprus News Agency.

Perdios added that measures introduced over the last three years by the ministry, the ministry of transport and airports’ operator Hermes are now paying off, as a number of traditional markets are back, while new destinations have been added.

“Tourism is not a button that you press and the next morning you have traffic,” said the junior minister.

Russia and Ukraine

He added that if it was not for the loss of the Russian and Ukrainian markets, following the outbreak of the war, Cyprus would be enjoying an exceptional year.

Perdios said that, “we are talking about the loss of 800,000 arrivals and these losses cannot be replaced overnight”.

He said a timely reaction from stakeholders and turning to other markets, has seen this shortfall met by around 200,000 arrivals from other countries.

“Cyprus is moving in the right direction, as we are seeing an improvement from Germany, Austria, Switzerland, the Scandinavian countries and Italy,” he said.

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

Over 53% of those tourists came from the island’s largest market, 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.

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