Cyprus tourist arrivals dip in bailout year
Tourist arrivals in Cyprus dipped last year when a European Union bailout rescued its banking system from collapse although revenues were up, official figures for 2013 showed yesterday. The number of tourists visiting the holiday island declined by 2.4 percent, reaching 2.40 million from 2.46 million in 2012. Tourism officials said the 2013 results were positive considering the unprecedented “haircut” on bank deposits and predicted an improvement in 2014. “Despite a slight decrease recorded in 2013, it is considered a very satisfactory year after the decisions in March when arrivals fell 70 percent in some cases,” Cyprus Tourism Organization chief Marios Hannides said. Hannides stressed that tourism revenues had increased by more than 9 percent “in one of the worst years for our economy.” Im- proved revenues are fanning hopes that the key sector, which accounts for around 12 percent of Cyprus’s GDP, can pull the economy out of recession in the near future. The largest annual fall in tourist arrivals was a 31.5 percent plunge from Germany, followed by a 21.1 percent dip from Greece and a 7.1 percent drop from Britain, the island’s biggest market. Only a sharp 28.3 percent spike in high-spending Russians in 2013 prevented a steeper drop in visitors, with more than 600,000 arrivals putting Russia in second place behind Britain.