Developments in the Middle East are indeed worrying, however, for the time being, they do not appear to have had any significant impact on tourist arrivals in Cyprus, with the island enjoying a strong start to 2024, according to Antonis Orthodoxou, the press spokesman of the Association of Cyprus Travel Agents (ACTA).

According to the Cyprus Statistical Service (Cystat), 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.

Orthodoxou also spoke about the upcoming Travel Expo Cyprus 2024 tourism exhibition, set to take place from April 19-21 at the State Exhibition Centre in Nicosia.

The exhibition, which is a collaborative effort between ACTA and Display Art, will be inaugurated on Friday, April 19, at 17.00 by the Deputy Minister of Tourism, Kostas Koumis, and the Greek Ambassador to Cyprus, Ioannis Papameletiou.

Speaking at a press conference this week, Orthodoxou emphasised that this year’s exhibition is of particular importance because the association is celebrating 70 years of operation.

He added that “this exhibition is considerred as one of the most successful exhibitions in Cyprus,” attracting more than 10,000 visitors annually, while it is the only tourism exhibition held in Cyprus.

He mentioned that it offers information to travellers wishing to spend their holidays in Cyprus and abroad, as well as attractive travel packages from the exhibitors participating in the exhibition.

Moreover, this year the Greek National Tourism Organisation (GNTO), the Deputy Ministry of Tourism, tour operators, airlines, hotels, tourist resorts and regions, islands, and municipalities of Greece are participating too.

Annita Demetriadou, the Director of Tourism at the Deputy Ministry of Tourism, noted that the improvement and upgrading of the exhibition is noticeable year after year.

She further added that the Deputy Ministry of Tourism will have “a large exhibition where we will present our special interests in tourism, and we will also have an exhibition area for agrotourism.”

Petros Saganas, the head of the Cyprus office of the GNTO, after congratulating the association on its 70 years of operation, said that “Cyprus is one of the important tourist markets of Greece,” which is the “first destination of Cypriots abroad.”

In addition, he expressed hope “for a good tourist year, given the geopolitical instability and the possible economic impact this may have on the wallets of consumers,” while he hoped that tourist traffic to Greece and Cyprus would be good, after last year’s record year.

Addressing concerns about whether the number of tourist arrivals in Cyprus will be affected due to developments in the Middle East, Orthodoxou reassured that tourism to Cyprus “started quite strongly this year” and this was helped by the Catholic Easter, which was quite early, adding that due to this event “more hotels opened than in other years and much earlier”.

Orthodoxou also confirmed that bookings for Easter are “going very well,” while “summer bookings are also going well,” which “could go even further,” adding that compared to the same period last year, pre-bookings are “at the same level”.

When asked if there will be attractive holiday packages at the exhibition, the ACTA spokesperson explained that after the COVID-19 pandemic “a lot of things have changed in what we mean by attractive price because costs have risen very much”.

He added that at the exhibition “there will be a wide range of holiday packages for different destinations.”

What is more, he noted that additional direct flights have been added to Greek islands, particularly for Crete, where direct flights could reach 10 per week during July and August.

Finally, Demetriadou said that it would be positive “if we stay at 2023 levels,” while also reassuring that “we are working to have an increase”.