Cyprus wants British holidaymakers back
Initial estimates raised serious concerns over the impact of a decline in the number of Russian travellers booking Cyprus holidays, spurring the Mediterranean nation's tourism sector to look at ways to entice larger volumes of British and German holidaymakers. Revised figures however, indicate a less bleak picture from the Russian market as well as a notable improvement in other key source markets like Germany and the UK.
As Cyprus looks to its tourism sector to lift the country out from its current recession, the fall in the Russian Ruble and the subsequent decline in arrivals from Russia has been cause for concern.
Chairman of the Cyprus Tourism Organization (CTO), Angelos Loizou, in his first press briefing since being appointed, has advocated a renewed focus on attracting holidaymakers from stable markets like Germany and the United Kingdom. Loizou did not, however, disregard the importance of Russia, which accounts for a quarter of all arrivals to Cyprus, or other emerging markets like Israel, Poland and the Arab countries.
Since that initial press conference, a more positive picture has emerged than the initial estimates of a 25-30 per cent decline in the number of Russian travellers booking Cyprus holidays. According to the Director of the Cyprus Hotel Managers, Vasos Kilani, “the situation is different than what we anticipated earlier this year” as Kalini went on to state that the decline was likely to be closer to 15 per cent.
Recent figures released by the CTO indicate that overall there was a 26 per cent increase in March 2015 arrivals, when compared with the same month last year, with a total of 97,479 travellers taking holidays in Cyprus. Much of the growth was owed to a boost in arrivals from the UK- up 36 per cent on the back of a ramp up in marketing as well as an increase in arrivals from Greece. A strong performance from UK and Greek visitors helped to offset a modest 3.4 per cent decline in arrivals from Russia.
With both Germanwings and Germania now offering direct flights to Cyprus it is also expected that arrivals from Germany will increase throughout 2015 and help to further protect Cyprus from the impact of a decline in Russian arrivals. Germanwings was the first to announce a new weekly route to Larnaca from Cologne in November 2014. At the time Heinz Joachim Schöttes, Senior VP Corporate Communications Germanwings stated,
"Cyprus is a significant, all-year-round destination for holiday and business travellers, due to its strategic geographical position and warm climate. We are convinced that we will contribute to the tourism development of the Mediterranean island."
On the other hand, in March 2015, Germania Airlines announced that it would be offering non-stop Cyprus flights from five key German cities including Berlin, Hamburg and Munich.
From the UK side many airlines already provide a strong, solid service to Cyprus with regular direct flights to Larnaca, Paphos and Ercan, from a variety of UK destinations including London, Manchester, Birmingham, Newcastle, Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Belfast, Cardiff, Leeds, Nottingham and Exeter. The companies providing the most frequent routes to Cyprus include scheduled airlines like British Airways, easyJet and Ryanair as well as chartered flights offered by the likes of Thomson and Thomas Cook.
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