Cyprus has achieved its target for tourist arrivals exceeding 2021 and is gearing for a “difficult 2023” with EU markets as its focus, said Tourism Minister Savvas Perdios.
Tourist arrivals in January – August exceeded 2.12 million, surpassing last year’s arrivals with estimations that for the year, they could reach 80% of 2019 levels, a record year for visitors.
Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the ensuing western sanctions against Moscow, the Tourism Deputy Ministry drafted a Plan B focusing on EU markets to offset losses of the Russian market, the island’s second largest tourist pool.
“The greatest opportunity for Cyprus in the coming years comes from the EU; this is evident,” Perdios told CNA from France.
He noted that Cyprus is lagging about 21% in tourist arrivals compared with 2019, but arrivals from EU markets are up by 22%, as momentum “is great.”
Arrivals from Germany in the first eight months are up 26% compared to 2019, arrivals from France by 100%, Austria by 57%, Denmark by 70%, Italy by 52%, 30% from the Netherlands and 60% from the Czech Republic.
Cyprus hoped to claw back about 200,000 arrivals from the estimated 800,000 lost from the Russian market, “we achieved 160,000 in eight months,” said Perdios.
He urged tourist stakeholders to adjust their plans for the EU market due to the geopolitical crisis.
“In the mid of the geopolitical crisis with the war in Ukraine, it is important to invest in the EU markets, and this is evident from the data on arrivals.”
Perdios acknowledged that 2023 would be difficult as the ministry does not factor in any arrivals from Russia.
“It is very important that we have attained our target (for this year) in eight months, which allows us to push for the remaining four months of the year and start investing in 2023, which will be difficult”.
Emphasis will be placed on the same countries as this year and Saudi Arabia as direct flights are scheduled to begin.
“Fresh markets” such as France are expected to contribute positively.
Arrivals from France between May and August hit a historic high, doubling since 2019 and reaching about 50,000.
This outcome was aided by new flights between the two countries, which are expected to continue in the winter.
“We feel that there are significant prospects in France, and we’ve stated that six months before direct flights began, and this momentum is now confirmed.”