Cyprus tourism believes it has lost the lucrative Israeli market for next summer, currently the second largest source of tourists.
In comments to the news site Stockwatch, the director general of the Cyprus Hotel Association, Thanos Michaelides, said that even if the war between Israel and Hamas ended today, the conflict would still take a heavy toll.
Michaelides explained that as things stand, Israel will no longer be the island’s second-largest market, creating another challenge following the loss of the Russians in the aftermath of the war in Ukraine.
He confirmed there are some cancellations from Israel for next year.
The increase in arrivals from Israel in recent weeks is from Israelis and other foreign nationals evacuating the country.
“In 2022, the Russian market was lost, with Israel becoming our second largest market.
“And now there is a serious possibility that Israel will lose its spot as the second largest market due to the war.
“Our country should develop intense activities to build up other markets.”
Michaelides said Poland, Germany, and France are the markets with positive trends, which must be further developed.
He suggested a strategic focus on the German market, given its status as the largest economy in the European Union.
“The German market must be developed.
“Germany has the largest economy in Europe and is closer than England, so ticket prices are expected to be more competitive.
“The problem we have with Germany is that we have very little exposure, and it is a country where, to produce results, a lot of money must be invested”.
Michaelides added that surveys in Paphos show that German tourists leave the island satisfied with their stay.
“The difficulty lies with convincing them to come to Cyprus. We do not have the necessary exposure in the country to build the market.
“The sheer size of the market indicates the prospects. We will need to invest over a long period. ”
According to CyStat, for the first nine months to September (before the Israel-Hamas war), there were 3,136,145 arrivals from 2,540,554 last year, as Israeli tourists boosted the market.
Some 368,000 Israeli tourists have arrived this year for a holiday.
Despite the upward trend, it is still short of the benchmark year 2019, when 524,707 tourists arrived in September and 3,260,546 in the first nine months.
In September, the United Kingdom was Cyprus’s primary tourism source, with 34% of the total arrivals (165,869).
Israel followed, contributing 11.7% (57,088), with Poland at 6.7% (32,530), Germany at 5.5% (26,907), and Sweden at 4.6% (22,196).
In 2022, Cyprus lost the Russian market, responsible for 800,000 arrivals annually.
Tourist arrivals from Russia in 2019, a record year, reached nearly 900,000, with the Russian market the second largest after the UK.
Cyprus saw a record 3.97 million tourists in 2019.