The strengthening of the diversification and resilience of the Cypriot tourism product is demonstrated by the figures for tourist arrivals in 2022, Deputy Minister of Tourism Savvas Perdios told KYPE, stressing that the goal for 2023 is for revenues to surpass 2022 and approach their counterparts 2019.
Based on the data published yesterday by the Statistical Service, total tourist arrivals for the past year exceeded 3,2 million, corresponding to 80% of 2019, which was a record year for Cypriot tourism, despite the loss of the Russian market because of the war in Ukraine.
"The conclusion we can draw from last year is that our tourism is more resilient and that we are now entitled to say that Cypriot tourism does not depend on the Russian market", said Mr. Perdios speaking to KYPE.
As he said, the diversification and strengthening of the resilience of Cypriot tourism was demonstrated by the results of 2022, especially in terms of revenues, which were 90% of 2019.
"So we had almost a full recovery of 2019 revenue, while in arrivals we are at about 80%. This means that, not only in arrivals did we manage to bring in the approximately 250.000 arrivals from the EU mitigating the loss from the Russian market, but those arrivals had spent more,” he added.
According to the Deputy Minister of Tourism, achieving 90% of 2019 revenue ranks Cyprus in the top 20 countries worldwide in terms of revenue recovery compared to 2019.
Based on available data, the per capita expenditure of tourists in Cyprus was €760 while in Greece it was €646, showing an increase of 12% compared to 2019, with the increase not being due to inflation, since tourism operators in Cyprus had granted reduced prices due to the loss of the Russian market as well.
Mr. Perdios noted that the profile of Cypriot tourism is that there is the UK market which is the backbone, but more importantly, it is not the UK that had the largest share of arrivals, which almost remained unchanged, but an increased share was recorded from the EU countries and Israel.
As he said, 2022 was the year of historical records in arrivals from Poland, France, Italy, Denmark, Austria and Hungary, while 20-year records were recorded by Germany and Switzerland.
Further compared to 2019, total arrivals from the EU saw a 24% increase, while by country, arrivals from Poland recorded a 133% increase, followed by France with 98%, Denmark with a 67% increase, Austria, Hungary and Italy with an increase of 58% and Germany with an increase of 31%.
Increased revenue for 2023
Asked about this year, Mr. Perdios said 2023 starts with positive messages from the United Kingdom where demand remains at the same levels as last year, which the country's travel agents have stated, while Cyprus remains in the top 10 destinations for in 2023.
But he emphasized at the same time that there is a base of ten other markets that will support tourist traffic.
At the same time, regarding the setting for the routes in 2023, the movements have already been announced by the airlines such as Ryanair, Wizz Air, Cyprus Airways, etc.
As he explained, the itineraries are of such a nature that flights from the UK will not exceed 30% of the total number of flights in 2023. Per week this summer season we will have 56 flights from Israel, 45 from Germany, 45 from Scandinavia, 34 from Poland, 25 from Austria, 24 from Italy, 22 from France, 20 from Switzerland, 20 from Serbia and 14 from Hungary.
There are also expectations of the launch of flights from three cities in Saudi Arabia.
"So this again points to the fact that our penetration of new markets or the strengthening of existing markets is driven by airline planning," he said, also explaining that the EU figure, which was 41% last year, is expected to increase due to planned flights.
"Based on what we have in front of us today, it looks like we're going to outperform 2022 revenue, we're going to focus more on the revenue side since we feel like we're likely to get close to 2019 performance," he added.
At this point Mr. Perdios explained that since more than 50% of arrivals are from individual travelers, this means that the per capita spend is higher compared to the arrivals of tourists who came with pre-paid packages, which was the case as mostly for the Russian market.
However, he stressed that the fact that the majority of arrivals were in individual packages meant that we could not afford to be complacent.
"Now every year it's like starting from scratch, there are no prepaid packages from the beginning. Our tourism model has changed and this means that more work is needed to attract tourists," he stressed.
Regarding the picture of tourist arrivals in 2023, the Deputy Ministry is waiting for the completion of the important tourist exhibitions around the end of March to have a complete picture.
In the USA to promote the Cypriot market
Besides, Mr. Perdios is leaving at the end of the week for the USA, with the aim of creating mobility in the said market.
As he said, during his contacts in Washington and New York he will have meetings with travel organizers, presentations to the media, the diaspora and travel associations.
He stressed that expectations should not be created for direct flights from the US, but the aim is to showcase Cyprus through existing options for arrivals such as via Jordan and Frankfurt.
"The two main messages we want to project are the diversity of Cyprus in relation to other Mediterranean islands, we want to highlight the diversity of Cyprus in relation to the Greek islands. The second is that you can combine Cyprus with a common Middle Eastern package such as Jordan," he said.