NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — The government of Cyprus expects tourism to start fully rebounding in 2022 after arrivals this year increased a healthy 175% over a dismal 2020, a tourism minister said Thursday.
Deputy Minister of Tourism Savvas Perdios said the Mediterranean island nation recorded around 1.7 million traveler arrivals between January and October, 54% fewer than in a record-setting 2019.
But unlike other years, arrivals noticeably increased this fall instead of dropping off in September, Perdios said.
He said tourism is expected to return to pre-pandemic levels by 2024.
Tourism directly accounts for 13% of Cyprus’ economy and the precipitous drop in revenue during the first months of the pandemic hit the country hard.
Tourism revenue between January and September of this year reached over 1 billion euros ($1.2 billion), more than three times the amount for the same period last year but a 53% drop from 2019.
The decision by Royal Caribbean, the world’s second-largest cruise line operator, to use Cyprus as a home port significantly helped the tourism this year, according to Perdios. The company is expected to keep Cyprus as a home port for the next few years.
To broaden the country's appeal beyond the staple sun and surf that have drawn tourists for decades, authorities are looking to promote winery tours in areas of Cyprus with a millennia-old history of making wine, the minister said.
They also hope to popularize Cyprus as a location for nature hikes, scuba diving and tours of religious sites that date back to the origins of Christianity.
Private companies have embarked on massive marina projects to encourage yachting.