NICOSIA – The COVID-19 pandemic is still ongoing but you wouldn’t know it on Cyprus where health restrictions have been pulled back to entice tourists and they are responding in big numbers.
Tourism arrivals on the Greek-Cypriot part of the island in the first three months of the year reached 80 percent of the record 2019, before the Coronavirus put a shroud on the world early in 2020.
Minister of Transport, Communications and Works Yiannis Karousos said that showed a potential big summer even without Russian airlines banned under European Union sanctions for the invasion of Ukraine.
The Russians are a key market for Cyprus where many also live or have summer residences and the wealthy had used Cypriot banks to hide their wealth, many given residency permits after making big investments.
“Arrivals at Larnaca and Paphos airports are very encouraging. In April 2022, almost 290,000 tourists arrived in Cyprus, compared to only 38,000 in April 2021,” Karousos said through the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Transport, Communications and Works, Stavros Michael, at a conference organized by the Flight Safety Foundation, reported Kathimerini.
Karousos added that in “the first quarter of 2022, 534,000 tourists traveled to Cyprus, reaching 77.7 percent of the arrivals that came the same period of 2019,” indicating a big rebound continuing all year.
He added that, “provisional statistics for May also show that arrivals will steadily increase, in view of the summer holiday period. We are positive that this year’s statistics will be improved, despite the sad development with the Russian war in Ukraine and the possibility of a new outbreak of the pandemic in the near future,” that could see health restrictions return.
He noted that Cyprus’ economy depends on tourists and aviation that bring in more than 20 percent of the annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 22.7 billion euros ($23.8 billion) as the biggest revenue engine.