Tourism stakeholders hope to build on the tourist revival in 2022, although the ongoing COVID pandemic and instability created by the Ukraine war have them on edge for the new season.
Hoteliers are holding off from making predictions as they wait for the first summer bookings to come in January and February.
Last season left a sweet taste, as tourist arrivals in the first 11 months were 80% of the record-setting 3.97 million in 2019, with 3.1 million coming to Cyprus.
According to CyStat data for January to November, tourist arrivals were 3,091,039 compared to 1,840,003 in 2021.
In the first ten months of 2022, income from tourism reached 90.2% compared to 2019, generating €2 bln.
In comments to the news site Stockwatch, the chair of the Cyprus Hotel Association, Harris Loizides, said: “We are anticipating and investing in the momentum created last year by penetrating traditional markets, which create a new perspective for the summer of 2023.”
Loizides noted that efforts to reach new markets after losing the Ukrainians and Russians due to the war in Ukraine prompted more arrivals from Germany, Israel, Scandinavia, and Central Europe.
“However, we prefer to avoid enthusiasm.
“At least until we have proof the trend built in 2022 will continue in 2023,” said Loizides.
He said January and February are the months that holidaymakers traditionally book their summer getaways.
“Considering the impact of electricity price hikes, increases in interest rates and the cost of living, which, combined with labour shortages, have created intense pressures on the industry, we believe the next couple of months will be critical for the industry’s immediate future,” said Loizides.
“Messages from our partners abroad are encouraging, saying that arrivals this season will at least be the levels of 2022.
“However, the cost of air tickets should also be considered, which will depend on the fuel prices.
“The cost of tourist packages has already increased by 6-10%.”
The Association of Cyprus Tourism Enterprises (STEK) said the outcome of the year ahead would depend on the collective efforts of stakeholders.
STEK chair Akis Vavlitis said hotels would get a picture in March.
“Given the energy crisis, which has been a heavy blow for all Europeans, who have also felt the brunt of increased interest rates and inflationary pressures, we will need to wait and see whether a hunger for travel will transform into bookings.
“The first indications from Britain, according to tour operators, are that Britons have already budgeted for holidays abroad”.
According to CyStat, in November, the United Kingdom was the main source of tourism, as British tourists made up 25.5% of total arrivals.
Vavlitis pointed out that if the war in Ukraine ends, the Russian market will have to be treated as a new one.
“Generally, traffic was satisfactory in 2022, although the hotels that depended on the Russian market have suffered.”