Cyprus Expects a Record Number of Tourists to Arrive in 2017

FILE - In this Sunday, May 25, 2014 file photo, a man plays rackets as other tourists enjoy the sea at "Konnos" beach near the famous coastal resort of Ayia Napa in the eastern Mediterranean island of Cyprus. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias, File)

NICOSIA – A Cyprus tourism official says the eastern Mediterranean island expects to hit another record number of tourists this year, with visits expected to increase 5 percent over last year.

Cyprus Tourism Organization Chairman Angelos Loizou says that’s on top of a record-setting 2016, which saw almost 3.2 million holidaymakers arrive. He told The Associated Press on Thursday that the tourism industry contributes more than 20 percent of the country’s 17.6 billion-euro ($18.5 billion) economy.

Loizou credits a complete overhaul three years ago of how Cyprus markets its tourism as the primary reason for the boost after the island lost potential tourists to nearby markets such as Turkey, Egypt and Morocco.

FILE – In this Saturday, June 14, 2014 file photo, a woman sit on the sand as other people enjoy the sea at “Nissi Beach” in the famous southeastern coastal resort of Ayia Napa, Cyprus. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias, File)

He said the tourism industry was vital to helping steer a near-bankrupt Cyprus out of a 2013 international bailout program.