The year 2015 has been positive for Cypriot tourism, despite challenges mainly caused by problems with the Russian market, Energy and Tourism Minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis said during a news conference at the World Travel Market in London.
The main reason for the positive outcome has been a surge in arrivals from the UK.
The minister pointed out that the number of British tourists travelling to Cyprus in 2015 increased significantly for the first time in years, with more than 1mln arrivals expected by the end of the year.
In total, tourist arrivals in Cyprus will be around 2.6mln by the end of 2015, he said.
Based on data covering the first nine months of the year, arrivals from the UK recorded an 18 per cent year-on-year rise.
There has also been a rise in visitors from Germany, Israel and Arab countries.
Russia has been a source of concern as arrivals fell between 17 per cent and 20 per cent in 2015, while a small fall has been recorded in arrivals from Scandinavia.
However, the slightly negative performance of the Nordic countries is considered to be a temporary lull by the people in charge of Cyprus tourism.
“Despite the reductions,” noted Lakkotrypis, “we are still coming to a positive year end.”
He attributed the significant rise in arrivals from the UK to the government’s and the Cyprus Tourism Organisation’s strategy of “re-investing” in traditional tourist markets such as Britain and Germany, the favourable exchange rate between the pound and the euro, and the lower fuel prices, which have reduced the airlines’ cost of flying to Cyprus.
The minister expressed his optimism over the “quite promising” indications regarding 2016, with initial bookings from the UK showing an increase.
He made a special reference to the fact that there has been an increased interest in bookings for March and November, the two months which have been identified as a first stage priority in the plan to expand the season beyond summer months in Cyprus.