Tourism – which pulled Cyprus out of an economic crisis and is the main revenue engine – hit new records in July with foreign visitors pouring in from everywhere for sun and sand and beaches and vacations.
Most came from the country’s former Colonial ruler, the United Kingdom, which still keeps a base on the island and with many ex-pats buying properties, including on the northern third unlawfully occupied by Turkey since a 1974 invasion.
The record run soared with a 1.6 percent increase in July in the number of tourists, the country’s statistics agency Cystat reported, despite a drop of 1.1 percent from the UK, whose residents make up 32.4 percent of visitors, followed by Russia at 22.5 percent, Israel at 6.1 percent and then Sweden at 4.8 percent.
Many wealthy Russians also keep their money in Cypriot banks with the country still trying to fight off a reputation as a money-laundering haven and place for affluent foreigners to hide their money although they took the biggest hits in 2013 when President Nicos Anastasiades, reneging on promises, authorized confiscation of 47.5 percent of bank accounts over 100,000 euros ($114,030) to keep banks from collapsing under the weight of bad loans to Greek businesses and holdings in Greek bonds devalued 74 percent.
There were 539,626 tourists in July, the highest ever recorded for the month, with tourism monies pulling Cyprus out of the crisis, despite percentage drops in visitors from Russia, Israel and Germany.
The first seven months of the year showed a 9.6 percent hike in visitor arrivals over the previous year, some 2,184,775 compared with 1,994,236 in the corresponding period of 2017.