Tourist arrivals are down on last year, confirming initial fears that 2019 will be difficult, Cyprus Hotels Association chairman Harris Loizides told the Cyprus News Agency on Tuesday.
Last year Cyprus welcomed a record 3.93 million visitors.
Tourist arrivals in May dipped to 434,578, down 3.5% from 450,495 in the same month in 2018, according to figures issued by the Statistical Service.
Overall, for the period of January to May this year, tourist arrivals totalled 1,121,361, down 1.1% from 1,134,076 in the corresponding period of 2018.
“There is a noticeable drop from basic markets, which is confirmed by the statistics for May. Our effort is to try to reverse this situation at least in the next three to four months of the season, so as to limit losses as much as possible,” he said.
“We believe that we will be down by 5% to 10% from 2018, however we expect and hope that the situation will improve a little in the months of July, August, September and October,” he added.
May is the second month this year that arrivals have dipped on the record arrivals of 2018 and tourism stakeholders have indicated they do not expect Cyprus will match last year’s record 3.93 million tourists. March arrivals were also down.
Tourist arrivals from the United Kingdom, Cyprus’ biggest market, decreased by 2.6% in May 2019 compared to May 2018, while tourist arrivals from Russia — the second biggest market — were down by 5.4%.
Sweden and Israel both recorded increases of 7.8% and 9.6% respectively.
Loizides said that efforts to improve markets showing momentum such as Poland, Germany, Belgium and the Gulf countries should be intensified.
“The biggest problem we face is flights primarily from Central Europe. We appear to have good connectivity with the Gulf and the Middle East and we can build on these.”
The Russian market — the island’s second largest — is a little behind, but Loizides said that current indications are that it would recover.
The UK and German markets are also down. There appears to be demand in Germany, but the bankruptcy of airlines led to the loss of 50,000 seats to Cyprus.
Efforts should focus on continuing to improve the tourism product in consultation with the deputy ministry of tourism to build on the winter market and to develop a profile beyond that of simply a sun and sea destination, he concluded.
Meanwhile, Eurostat has posted a data visualisation allowing users to check who visits each EU member state or where EU citizens prefer to go on holiday.