Tourist arrivals in March were a first indication of the season’s performance and it was not a positive one.
In fact, for the first time after four consecutive rises tourism arrivals in March were down by 11.5% to a total of 169,934 compared to 192,090 the year before. The significant decline in March is primarily attributed to Brexit and Germania airline’s bankruptcy. As well as to the fact that last year’s Catholic Easter came earlier.
Nonetheless, the fall in tourist arrivals for the year’s third month has also affected the quarter (despite the fact that arrivals in the first two months of 2019 were up). For the period of January-March 2019, tourist arrivals amounted to 357,475 compared to 369,438 the corresponding period in 2018, recording an overall decrease of 3.2%.
Decreased arrivals in Cyprus were recorded from almost all countries, with the exception of Russia. Arrivals from this country marked an increase of 10.1%, while arrivals from Ukraine recorded an increase of 43.7% compared to March 2018. The arrivals from the UK dropped by 6.9% in March 2019 compared to March 2018, while a 8.5% decrease was recorded from Greece and a 36.6% decrease from Germany. Arrivals from Israel were also down, by 40.1%.
However, winter tourism has been on the rise over the recent years. In 2013, a total of 92,620 tourists arrived in Cyprus in March, while in 2014 there was a fall of 16%. Total arrivals were 77,533. Within four years, the numbers had doubled with visitors in 2015 reaching 97,479 and 137,013 in 2016. In 2017, arrivals of tourists in winter exceeded 140 thousand, while last year they rose up to 195 thousand. The overall increase from 2013 is 83.5%.
In an interview with the CNA, Deputy Minister of Tourism, Savvas Perdios, has warned that both 2019 and 2020 will be tough years. And that prices for Cyprus tourist packages will have a 10% -15% reduction. This is because the private sector had to go ahead with such discounts in a bid to attract about the same number of visitors to Cyprus as last year, he also said.