articles | 17 December 2013

Britons and Russians offset drop in tourist arrivals

Tourism arrivals dipped 2.9% in November compared to the same month last year despite an increase in Russian and British visitors.

It was the first fall in holidaymakers since August while 2013 has only enjoyed two positive months out of eleven. In November alone the number of arrivals reached 81,542 from 84,020 in the same month last year. There was an 18.3% decrease in tourists from Greece (8,411 in November 2013 compared to 10,301 in November 2012) and a 33.2% drop from Germany (7,475 from 11,188). This was offset by a 3.5% increase in arrivals from the United Kingdom (from 29,392 in November 2012 to 30,413 in 2013) and a 7.9% increase from Russia (from 10,806 to 11,665). Although tourist arrivals are down, revenue for the first ten months has already surpassed total tourism revenue for 2012.

Only a sharp 28.8% increase in Russians this year has prevented a steeper drop in visitors when the bailed-out economy needs them most. For the first eleven months January-November total tourist arrivals reached 2.35 million - a 2.5% decline on the 2.41 million visitors for the same period in 2012. Money-generating tourism was the only bright spot on a scorched economic landscape in 2012 - when arrivals hit a seven-year high - but the bailout aftermath initially scared people away. But a positive September-October influx made sure arrival figures were close to last year while visitors to Cyprus seem to be spending more than last year.

Last month there were fewer holidaymakers from mainstay countries Germany (7,475) plunging 33.2%, Greece (8,411) dipping 18.3% and Switzerland (858) down 29.3% compared to the previous year. Moreover, latest revenue figures for October suggest tourism spending is up 16.6% from a year ago. Revenue generated in October reached €246.6m compared to €211.5m in the same month of 2012. Despite an overall drop in arrivals, improved revenue is fanning hopes that resurgence in the key sector can pull the economy out of recession in the near future. The government hopes burgeoning tourism income can help it recover from the Eurogroup's deposits haircut slap in March as part of a €23 billion bail-in/bailout deal with international lenders.

For February - October income from tourism is estimated at €1.95 billion from €1.82 billion in January-October 2012. Arrivals in 2012 increased 3% reaching 2.46 million visitors from 2.39 million for 2011. The last time arrivals to the holiday island surpassed this figure was in 2005 when 2.47 million people visited. Last year's good showing was achieved with a 42% jump in tourists from Russia while those from the island's biggest holiday market Britain fell 6% to 1.02 million. This year Russia has cemented itself as the island's second biggest tourist market behind Britain, while Greece is third with Germany in fourth place. For the first 11 months British tourist arrivals have declined 7.3% to 874,117 and Greece by 21.4% to 97,377. By contrast Cyprus has seen a 28.8% rise in Russian visitors reaching 602,916.

Last year annual tourism revenue rose to its highest figure since 2002 reaching €1.92 billion from €1.74b despite the financial crisis. Holidaymakers to Cyprus hit a record high of 2.69 million in 2001 spending a record €2.17b.  Income from tourism accounts for around 12% of Cyprus' GDP.

Source: InCyprus

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