AN increase of 2.8 per cent in tourist arrivals in March compared to the same month last year means a new record for visitors, the Statistical Service announced on Tuesday.
According to the results of the monthly passenger survey, March tourist arrivals totalled 140,873, up from 137,013 last year.
An increase of 13.5 per cent was recorded for the first three months of the year, bringing the number to 285,693, up from 251,608 in the first quarter last year.
Russians and Greeks continue to play a big role in the increase with year-on-year arrivals from Russia up by 55.1 per cent in March and from Greece up 10.7 per cent.
Other contributors for the growth in numbers are markets such as Israel which with 9,983 arrivals increased by 94.9 per cent from March last year (5,122).
Conversely, tourism from the UK decreased by 7.9 per cent, down from 59,282 to 54,571.
However, the United Kingdom remains the main source of tourists, followed by Russia, with a share of 38.7 and 14.1 per cent, respectively. Greece has a share of 9.6 per cent and Israel 7.1 per cent.
For 68.3 per cent of tourists, the purpose of their trip in last month was for holidays, for 15.5 per cent it was a visit to friends and relatives and for 16.1 per cent business.
Passenger data also revealed that in the same month, significantly more residents of Cyprus (19.2 per cent) travelled abroad. In March last year 86,229 Cypriots returned from abroad, while this year that figure rose to 102,758.
Of those 89,692 were trips to Europe, mainly to Greece and the UK. While in March last year 31,570 arrivals from Greece were counted, this year that number reached 38,638, up by 22.4 per cent. There was an increase to and from the UK by 22.3 per cent, rising from 16,940 to 29,716.
The data are obtained from the passenger survey which is conducted in the arrivals and departures halls in Larnaca and Paphos airports as well as from administrative sources such as the monthly arrivals at ports.
In an announcement of its own, the Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO) said the last 12-month period (April 2016 to March 2017) was the best-ever on record, with 3.22 million arrivals.
A breakdown for this period works out to: 36.1 per cent United Kingdom; 25.0 per cent Russia; 6.5 per cent Nordic countries; 5.1 per cent Greece; 4.9 per cent Israel; and 3.7 per cent Germany.
According to the CTO, the just-ended winter season (November 2016 to March 2017) saw an increase of 13.6 per cent in arrivals compared to the previous winter period, with some 498,000 people visiting the island.