Cyprus tourism boost for recession-hit economy

Cyprus’s recession-hit economy was boosted by an increase in May tourist revenue and a spike in holidaymakers arriving in June compared to the previous year, official figures showed on Friday. Much needed tourism income flowed into empty state coffers in May as receipts rose 14.5 percent on the same month last year, signalling a brighter economic outlook. Revenue in May reached 214.3 million euros compared to 187.1 million euros in the same month of 2011, a jump of 27.2 million euros as arrivals also improved by 9.7 percent. The average daily amount spent by tourists in May was 86 euros and the average stay was nine days. A year ago the average stay was 9.3 days while daily average spending was a lower 75.10 euros. Belgians were the biggest spenders this May at an average 169.50 euros a day, while the recession-hit Greeks were the most frugal spending 42.70 euros. Annual tourism revenue in Cyprus rose to its highest level for three years in 2011 reaching 1.749 billion euros despite the financial crisis.

That was a 12.9 percent jump in revenue compared to the 2010 figure of 1.54 billion. Holidaymakers to Cyprus hit a high of 2.69 million in 2001 spending a record 2.17 billion euros. Despite a drop in arrivals from mainstay country Britain, the number of tourists coming to Cyprus in June increased. Total arrivals in June reached 329,977 against 300,817 in the same month of 2011. There was a 42.1 percent rise in arrivals from Russia -- 80,145 -- making it the island’s second biggest market behind Britain, while Sweden ousted Germany for third place. Holidaymakers from Sweden spiked 26.2 percent to 19,404 and there was a 22.6 percent increase from Israel to 4,393. But more British tourists stayed away in June, with the 127,747 arrivals representing a 2.1 percent drop on the previous year and there was a 7.4 percent decline in arrivals from Germany at 10,693. Arrivals for the year so far, excluding March for which there are no official figures, increased 2.8 percent to 899,436. A significant 10.1 percent increase was recorded in tourist arrivals last year reaching 2.39 million from 2.17 million during the same period of 2010. Cyprus is negotiating a bailout from the European Union to prop up its banks that need to recapitalise due to a severe haircut on toxic Greek debts. Improved tourism income is one of the few bright spots for Cyprus’s struggling economy which depends on the revenues for nearly 12 percent of GDP.

The economy is expected to shrink 0.5 percent this year but grow by the same margin in 2013. [AFP]

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