Cyprus tourism experienced growth during the first quarter of 2024, marking a recovery after a previous period of decline, according to the Cyprus Statistical Service (Cystat), which released the relevant report on Wednesday.

The report showed that there has been a notable increase in both tourist arrivals and returns of residents from trips abroad in March 2024.

Specifically, tourist arrivals saw a rise of 9.8 per cent, reaching 202,256 compared to 184,263 in March 2023.

During the period from January to March 2024, the total arrivals of tourists amounted to 415,251, in contrast to 393,893 in the corresponding period of 2023, recording an increase of 5.4 per cent.

Focusing on the countries of origin, arrivals from the United Kingdom were the main source of tourism for March 2024, accounting for 31.8 per cent (64,414) of total arrivals.

This was followed by Poland with 10.4 per cent (21,054), Germany with 9.8 per cent (19,732), Greece with 9.1 per cent (18,361), and Israel with 8.2 per cent (16,620).

In terms of the purpose of their trips, 76.0 per cent of tourists in March 2024 visited Cyprus for holidays, whereas 13.1 per cent came to visit friends and relatives, and 10.7 per cent travelled for business.

This represents a shift from March 2023, where 71.6 per cent visited for holidays, 14.9 per cent visited friends or relatives, and 13.3 per cent were on business trips.

Turning to the returns of residents of Cyprus, there was a 12.5 per cent increase in the number of residents returning from a trip abroad in March 2024, with a total of 128,085 compared to 113,805 in the same month last year.

The main countries from which residents of Cyprus returned included Greece, with a significant share of 32.8 per cent (42,046), the United Kingdom with 12.8 per cent (16,366), and Italy with 5.4 per cent (6,916).

The majority of these trips, 70.5 per cent, were for holidays, while business trips accounted for 19.7 per cent, studies for 8.4 per cent, and other reasons for 1.4 per cent.

Meanwhile, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), global passenger demand grew by 21.5 per cent in February 2024, compared to the same month in 2023.

Correspondingly, total travel capacity, was up by 18.7 per cent year-on-year. Furthermore, the February load factor increased by 1.9 percentage points, reaching 80.6 per cent.

Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General, said that “the strong start to 2024 continued in February with all markets except North America reporting double-digit growth in passenger traffic”.

“There is good reason to be optimistic about the industry’s prospects in 2024 as airlines accelerate investments in decarbonisation and passenger demand shows resilience in the face of geopolitical and economic uncertainties”, Walsh said.

He added that “politicians must resist the temptation of cash grabs with new taxes that could destabilise this positive trajectory and make travel more expensive”.

“In particular, Europe is a worry as it seems determined to lock in its sluggish economic recovery with uncompetitive tax proposals,” Walsh concluded.