Visitor arrivals rose 20 per cent last year, or over 500,000 tourists, to a record 3,186,531, with arrivals from all major markets rising at double-digit rates, the statistical service said.
According to the Cyprus Tourism Organisation, 2016 set a new record for Cyprus tourism in terms of arrivals, showing an 18 per cent increase over 2001, the previous record-year.
Arrivals from the UK, traditionally Cyprus’ largest source of incoming tourism, rose 11 per cent to 1,157,978 in 2016, the highest since 2008, Cystat said.
Tourists from Russia, which in recent years has become Cyprus’ second major market, rose 49 per cent last year to 781,634.
The number of visitors from Greece, Israel and Germany rose 15 per cent to 160,254, 51 per cent to 148,739, and 11 per cent to 124,030 respectively.
The increase in arrivals, considered to be due to a combination of factors, including geopolitical tensions in the area and better connectivity, also continued in December, with the number of tourists rising 12 per cent to 87,927, compared with the respective month of 2015, Cystat said.
“Looking ahead to 2017, though the indications are positive, tremendous effort will be required by everyone, professionalism, devotion, and coordination, in order to match or even exceed the results of 2016,” the CTO said in a statement.
“The euphoria created can easily bring about complacency, or even a return to bad practices. Therefore, there must be care, seriousness and responsibility,” it added.
The CTO pledged to work even harder to continue the “multi-faceted and complex effort in the new year, which is marked by challenges like Brexit, dynamic mobilisation by our competitors, regional volatility and the growing threat of terrorism”.
According to CTO data, arrivals in each month between May and October 2016 set new historic records.
Directly or indirectly, tourism accounts for a quarter of Cyprus’ economy, projected to have expanded 2.8 per cent last year and expected to continue growing at the same pace next year.
In a separate statement, Cystat said the number of Cyprus residents who travelled abroad rose an annual 30 per cent in December to 105,548.