Cyprus tourism stakeholders hope to break the 2019 record for holidaymakers arriving at the island, following a boost in bookings extending well into the Autumn.
In comments to news site Stockwatch, Deputy Minister of Tourism Costas Koumis, confirmed that hoteliers report a healthy increase in bookings after the high summer season.
He said hotels are banking on an overall increase in tourists, with annual arrivals recording a 32% increase this year.
The minister noted that tourism stakeholders had been expecting an increase of 5-10% but were pleasantly surprised.
He argued Deputy Ministry of Tourism’s efforts for Cyprus to become an all-year-round tourist destination have paid off.
“From data collected, we now know that several tourist units will have high occupancies until mid-October,” said Koumis.
“Our tourism partners report that in some areas, such as Paphos, there will be an increase in tourists from November 2023 – February 2024, compared to previous years”.
However, some areas, such as Famagusta, are on the other end of the scale, reporting a 10% decrease in bookings over recent months compared to the benchmark year 2019.
Koumis confirmed that Famagusta hotels had seen their occupancy rates drop in June.
“We have been told that in June, there was no uniformity in the occupancy rates of the units across the island.
“In some units, a decrease of 10% was observed compared to 2019, which reflects their dependence on the Russian and Ukrainian market”.
He said that of the 876,000 Russian and Ukrainian visitors in 2019, around 70% had stayed in Protaras and Ayia Napa.
He argued that the ‘value for money’ principle played its role, as tourists weighed what hotels offered and its geographical location.
“We must also not forget the increase of self-serviced accommodation units, with 25,000 additional beds being thrown in the mix in 2023”.
Regarding the actions taken by the Deputy Ministry of Tourism to open up to the market of the Arab Gulf countries, Koumis noted: “Cyprus has a geographical advantage over other tourist destinations”.
The minister added that authorities will continue efforts to boost the island’s connectivity.
“At the beginning of September, when everyone returns from their holidays, we will launch a new round of consultations with our tourism partners and airlines to boost connectivity during the winter months.”
According to a report by the Airport Council International Europe, Cyprus recorded the largest increase (17%) in air connectivity among European member states in 2023, compared to pre-COVID 2019.
In 2019, the island welcomed a record 3.97 million visitors, with numbers drastically declining during the COVID pandemic.