UK, Greek Arrivals Help Cyprus Rack Up Another Record Tourism Year

FILE - An aircraft takes off from Larnaca airport past the control tower, right, Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017, at the southern coastal city of Larnaca, Cyprus. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

While Greece’s economy continues to struggle despite luring more than 31 million visitors in 2018, Cyprus’ recovery picked up steam with another record-busting tourism set of figures, seeing 39.3 million tourists, a 7.8 percent jump.

After banks nearly brought down the economy in 2013 with big holdings in Greek bonds devalued 74 percent and bad loans to Greek businesses which didn’t pay them back, a 10-billion euro ($11.39 billion) international bailout, austerity measures and confiscation of 47.5 percent of bank accounts over 100,000 euros ($113,920) helped a rebound.

But it’s been tourists who’ve brought the revenues to key the comeback along with the island’s reputation as safe while competitors nearby such as Egypt, Tunisia and Turkey have seen foreign visitors shy away out of fear of violence and terrorism.

Again it was the British, the island’s former Colonial rulers and who still keep a base there, who were the biggest market, drawing 1.32 million people, a six percent jump, said Agence France-Presse.

The Swedes, shaking off the Scandinavian cold, came in droves too, some 153,769, a jump of 12.5 percent, while fellow Greeks, some spending and traveling despite their country’s crisis, showed a 9.8 percent jump to 186,370 people.

There were some drop-offs though, in the second-largest market of Russian, down 5 percent with 783,631 arrivals and the third-largest, nearby Israel, down 11.2 percent with 232,561 arrivals, keeping the record away from the 40-million mark.

Poland and Ukraine have become new emerging markets for the island with annual increases of 58 per cent and 44.5 percent, official figures showed.

Tourism helped push Cyprus’ growth to 4 percent although the figures on how much they spent haven’t been released yet for a sector that accounts for more than 13 percent of the annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 19.01 billion euros ($21.65 billion).

The growth led the government to create a Deputy Tourism Minister, breaking it off from another ministry, and with plans to replace the current state-funded Cyprus Tourism Organisation