NICOSIA: More than 1.6 million tourists visited Cyprus in the six months to June, the largest number ever for the first half of the year, the island’s statistics office said Tuesday.
Tourist arrivals in January-June rose 12.4 percent to 1.64 million from 1.46 million in the same period last year, according to the Cyprus Statistical Service (Cystat).
“This also outnumbers the total of arrivals ever recorded in Cyprus during the first six months of the year,” it said.
An influx of tourists from main market Britain and an upswing from Sweden helped Cyprus mark another record as arrivals in June broke the 500,000 barrier, Cystat said.
“June 2018 had the highest volume of tourist arrivals ever recorded in Cyprus during the specific month,” it said.
Arrivals reached 511,073 in June, an increase of 8.2 percent from last year’s 472,450.
The statistical department noted however a 5.1 percent drop in the number of Russian tourists, as well as a 15.1 percent decrease in arrivals from Israel and a 11.3 percent decline from Germany.
Year-on-year tourist arrivals from number one market the United Kingdom rose by 9.9 percent in June to 164,477 while there was a 20.2 percent increase in tourists from Sweden.
Sweden has now become the island’s third largest tourist market, with Russia still holding second place.
Industry officials argue that arrivals from Russia are down due to fluctuations of the ruble and the renewed popularity of Turkey — a destination made more attractive by a weak Turkish lira.
The tourism boom has helped Cyprus return to growth following a 10-billion-euro bailout in March 2013 to rescue its crumbling economy and insolvent banks.
Income from tourism now accounts for about 15 percent of the eastern Mediterranean island’s gross domestic product and is credited with underpinning a quick recovery.
A record 3.65 million tourists took holidays in Cyprus last year, spending an unprecedented 2.6 billion euros. —AFP