Cyprus has proven its resilience in the face of the crises like the coronavirus pandemic and the Ukraine war, said tourism boss Savvas Perdios citing improved tourist arrivals for 2022.
Tourist arrivals hit 3.2 mln last year, despite Cyprus losing 800,000 Russian and Ukrainian tourists due to the war.
Visitor arrivals spiked 65% in 2022 after COVID-19 travel rules were dropped.
Due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the ensuing EU sanctions, Cyprus was deprived of 800,000 arrivals, but tourism recovered to around 80% of pre-pandemic levels.
The island is around 700,000 tourists short of the record year 2019, when arrivals peaked at 3.9 million.
“The conclusion we can draw from last year is that our tourism is more resilient and that we can now say that Cypriot tourism does not depend on the Russian market”, Perdios told the Cyprus News Agency.
He said the diversification and strengthening of the resilience of Cypriot tourism were demonstrated by the results of 2022, especially revenues, which were 90% of 2019.
“Reaching 90% of 2019 revenue ranks Cyprus in the top 20 countries worldwide in revenue recovery, compared to 2019”.
As he pointed out, based on available data, the per capita expenditure of tourists in Cyprus was €760 for 2022, while in Greece, it was €646.
Per capita expenditure in Cyprus recorded an increase of 12% compared to 2019, an increase not attributed to inflation, “as tourism operators in Cyprus had granted reduced prices”.
Perdios said the UK remains the backbone of the tourism industry, while arrivals from EU destinations recorded impressive jumps.
“2022 was the year of historical records for arrivals from Poland, France, Italy, Denmark, Austria and Hungary, while Germany and Switzerland set 20-year records.”
Compared to 2019, total arrivals from the EU saw a 24% increase, while arrivals from Poland jumped 133%, followed by France at 98%, Denmark at 67%, Austria, Hungary, and Italy with an increase of 58% and Germany up 31%.
Perdios said 2023 has kicked off with encouraging messages from the UK, where demand remains at the usual high standards, with Cyprus being amongst the top 10 preferred destinations for Britons this summer.
He added that at least another ten destinations are expected to send in a good number of tourists.
There are increased routes for 2023, with Ryanair, Wizz Air and Cyprus Airways adding additional flights to their schedule.
Perdios said that flights from the UK would represent less than 30% of flights this year, unlike previous seasons.
“During the summer, we will have 56 flights per week from Israel, 45 from Germany, 45 from Scandinavia, 34 from Poland, 25 from Austria, 24 from Italy, 22 from France, 20 from Switzerland, 20 from Serbia and 14 from Hungary”.
He expects flights from three Saudi Arabian cities to Cyprus will soon be added.
“The penetration to new markets, and the increase in flights, is expected to boost EU arrivals, which last year accounted for 41% of all tourist arrivals.
“Based on the data we have, it looks like we’re going to outperform 2022’s revenue.
“We will focus more on the revenue side, as we’re likely to reach 2019’s performance.”
Tourism has traditionally been a key driver of the economy, contributing around 15% of Cyprus’ GDP.
Pre-coronavirus 2019 was also a record year for tourism revenue, with spending at €2.68 bln.
In 2022, tourist arrivals totalled 3,201,080 from 1,936,931 in the previous, 631,609 in 2020 and 3,976,777 in pre-COVID 2019, announced the Statistical Service.
In December 2022 alone, tourist arrivals reached 110,041, from 96,928 in December 2021, recording an increase of 13.5%.
Arrivals from the United Kingdom were the main source of tourism for December, with a share of 24.3% (26,708), followed by Israel with 17.1% (18,801), Greece with 11% (12,055), Poland with 8.5% (9,316) and Germany with 4.5% (4,976).