Tourism is banking on major cruise firms calling Limassol their home port and improved air connectivity to make Cyprus a top world destination.
At a press conference Tuesday, tourism boss Savvas Perdios said the island was boosted by a revival of the cruising industry, as 350,000 tourists arrived onboard a cruise ship this year from 130,000 in 2019.
The Deputy Minister of Tourism said several cruise giants had called Cyprus their home port, including Royal Caribbean, MSC Cruises, Israeli Mano and Celestyal Cruises.
In addition, new air routes were introduced since 2019 from Europe and the Middle East, while new routes to France, Belgium and Switzerland are expected.
Perdios said that the current air connectivity of Cyprus is better than in 2019 regarding destinations and flights available.
“This is despite the Russian and Ukrainian market loss due to the war that started in February,” said Perdios.
Cyprus missed out on an estimated 800,000 combined arrivals from the two countries in 2022 due to the war in Ukraine and the sanctions imposed on invading Russia.
The minister does not expect Cyprus to see the Russian market reviving in the coming years, even if everything could somehow return to normality overnight.
“New destinations, such as France, Italy, Hungary, Serbia and Saudi Arabia have been added to the existing markets of Germany, Poland, Israel, Scandinavian countries, the Netherlands, Greece, Austria, Switzerland and Jordan”.
“Poland is a new market that is performing exceptionally well.
“I predict Poland will be our second-best market after the UK next year.”
He argued that the Polish market has great potential, as it is a large market with tourists of all ages choosing Cyprus as their holiday destination.
Some 40% of arrivals in 2022 were from EU countries, compared to 25% before the pandemic.
The UK remains the strongest market, with Britons contributing one-third of tourist arrivals.
Cooperation with Jordan will attract markets like the USA, Canada, Korea, Japan and China through joint tourist packages, but in small numbers.
Perdios said Cyprus’ National Tourism Strategy 2030 aims to establish Cyprus beyond the world’s top 30 tourist destinations.
Cyprus is not far off, as it currently ranks 31 out of 117 countries in the Travel and Tourism Development Index of the World Economic Forum.
It is 21 on the index of 43 countries in Europe and sixth out of 16 in the Mediterranean.
The tourism authority is to have Cyprus ranked among the top 30 markets worldwide and the top 20 in Europe.
Perdios believes Cyprus has been successful in rebranding itself.
“The country is no longer only the island of sun and sea, as we are now promoting Cyprus as an all-season destination with history, culture and authentic experiences.”
More than 30% (€15 mln) of the annual budget of the Deputy Ministry went to grants for improving infrastructure and services, such as rural villages, forest reserves and guesthouses, wineries, and nature trails.