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Google boost for Cyprus holidays

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Cyprus tourism is in recovery mode, following two years of COVID, as Google search metrics recorded a surge in interest from foreign tourists.

Despite losing the Russian and Ukrainian markets due to the war in Ukraine, tourism arrivals reached 80% of pre-pandemic levels.

The island was around 700,000 tourists short of the record year 2019 when arrivals peaked at 3.97 million. The Russian market was expected to generate some 800,000 tourists.

The Deputy Ministry of Tourism said that tourist interest in Cyprus, reflected by Google searches, recorded an increase of approximately 120% compared to 2021 and a 47% increase compared to 2019.

“2022 figures suggest a return to normality following the COVID-19 pandemic with clear signs of steady recovery throughout the year”.

Searches exceeded the 2019 level for every month except January 2022, which saw a 12% decline due to lingering concerns over the spread of coronavirus and the subsequent hesitancy to travel.

Figures confirm that travellers were still hesitant to book their summer getaways last February, with searches for the island spiking in the following months.

“For the rest of the year, searches involving Cyprus were much higher than those recorded in 2019, especially during the spring, autumn and winter months,” said the deputy ministry.

Famagusta and Paphos

From the analysis of the total searches for accommodation in busy tourist resorts, most searches concerned Ayia Napa and Protaras, representing 45.9% of the total searches.

Paphos followed with 41.6%.

Compared to the 2021 surveys, the gap between Famagusta and Paphos has narrowed, attributed to the ongoing war in Ukraine, a historically important source of tourism for the Famagusta area.

The next most popular searches, although with much lower hits, were for Limassol and Larnaca (both accounting for 4.3% of the total).

Rural and mountainous areas attracted 2.3% of Google searches. However, only 1.6% of searches involved the capital Nicosia.

Regarding a breakdown based on the origin of searches, half of those made in the UK (50.6%) were looking for accommodation in Paphos.

Famagusta was second amongst UK travellers with 38.7%.

Most Israeli tourists also had their eyes set on Paphos, as 58.4% searched for a retreat in the area.

Travellers from the German-speaking market were more interested in Famagusta (63.6%), while a quarter (23.7%) were looking for a Paphos resort.

Paphos was the preferred choice for Google users in Greece, the Netherlands and Belgium.

Famagusta is the top choice for users from Austria (77.1%), Sweden (86.3%), Switzerland (82.4%), Denmark (83.8%), Serbia (86.7%), Hungary (72.7%), Slovakia (88.8%) and Romania (75.9%).

Tourist arrivals in Cyprus in 2022 exceeded 3.2 million (3,201,080), an increase of 65% compared to 2021 when arrivals reached 1.94 million.

Compared to the record year, 2019, arrivals recovered more than 80% of 2019 volume (down 19.5% overall).

Income generated from tourism saw even better results in 2022.

From January to October 2022, tourism income recovered 90.2% of the same period of 2019, calculated to €2.29 bln, compared to €2.53 bln.

The revenue recovery is due to increased spending per capita (+13%), as arrivals for the same 10-month period in 2022 were 79.6% of the 2019 level.