Updated: Friday, 18 April 2014 03:25 | By Agence France-Presse

Cyprus tourist arrivals plunge but Russians keep coming

British and German tourists stayed away from Cyprus in March but the number of Russian visitors rose as arrivals on the Mediterranean island plunged 16.3 percent from March 2013, official data showed Thursday.


Cyprus tourist arrivals plunge but Russians keep coming

Tourists enjoy Ayia Napa's Nissi beach in Cyprus on May 1, 2013 - by Patrick Baz

The 16.3 percent drop to 77,533 from 92,620 in March 2013 was the largest dip in tourist arrivals for 13 months, and followed an increase recorded in February.

There was a 22.5 percent drop in the number of holidaymakers from Britain, the island’s number one market, falling to 30,368 from 39,170 in March 2013.

The number of tourists arriving from Greece dropped by 12.6 percent and the number coming from Germany dived 41.5 percent.

But this was offset by the all-important Russian market, which improved 5.8 percent on last year.

For the first three months of 2014, tourist arrivals totalled 163,436 compared to 177,233 for the same period of 2013, a drop of 7.8 percent.

After the first three months Britain (59,604 visitors) remained in top spot, followed by Greece (19,714), Russia (15,714) and Germany (9,810).

In 2013 there was a 2.4 percent dip in tourist arrivals to the holiday island, down to 2.4 million from 2.46 million in 2012.

Although the number of tourists was down last year, the 2.08-billion-euro revenue received in 2013 was the best for a decade.

Despite an overall drop in arrivals, improved revenue is fanning hopes that the key sector can pull the bailed out economy out of recession in the near future.

Tourism officials are hopeful that 2014 will show an improvement on last year, especially as more direct markets to Cyprus are beginning to open up.

Following a 10 billion euro ($14 billion) rescue package to save a crumbling economy and insolvent banks in March 2013, Cyprus is expected to return to growth next year after two years of deep recession.

Income from tourism accounts for around 12 percent of Cyprus's GDP.

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