Bailed-Out Cyprus Sees Another Boom Tourism Record for 2017

FILE - A young male plays with a football as he and others enjoy good weather near the sea in the southwest coastal city of Paphos in the eastern Mediterranean island of Cyprus, Monday, May 1, 2017. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

NICOSIA – Four years after getting a 10-billion euro ($10.93 billion) international bailout with its banks and economy teetering, Cyprus expects 2017 will bring a new record for tourism, passing the 3.2 million visitors the year before.

The prediction was presented to Members of Parliament on May 2 by Marinos Menelaou, Acting Director-General of the Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO) who said there has been a 13.5 per cent increase in arrivals during the first quarter of 2017 compared to the same period last year, according to the Cyprus Mail.

Bookings from the United Kingdom – the largest market for Cyprus and its former Colonial ruler – were up 10 percent over 2016.

Overall, arrivals during the past winter came to 298,000, the second-best winter season on record and heralding a banner summer session.

The CTO said also that reservations for the 2017-2018 winter season are projected to rise by 20 per cent.

“It seems that we will beat last year’s record. Our heads should not be in the clouds, what is needed is a can-do attitude and hard work to ensure this is not a one-off,” said DIKO party MP Angelos Votsis.

Last year marked a record in tourist arrivals, with revenues coming to €2.3 billion ($2.51 billion) the lawmakers were told.

An official with the Employers and Industrialists Federation (OEV) struck a note of caution, noting that despite the boom, not all revenues went back into the economy.

The official said a number of hotels are indebted to banks, adding that some of the businesses are partially foreign-owned.

Zacharias Ioannides, the Director General of the Cyprus Hoteliers Association (Pasyxe), said that Cypriot hotels are resisting the temptation to raise rates despite the upsurge in demand.

“Cyprus is considered the second cheapest destination in the Mediterranean after Turkey, which has seen a 50 percent decline in reservations due to the known problems there.

“We have matured. In the past, whenever the tourism market went well, we used to hike prices by 10 to 15 per cent. Now we are planning long-term.”