Cyprus Tourism arrivals down by 10% in 2009

Greetings from the Island of Love where we are just coming out of another heatwave with temperatures crossing the 30 degrees (yes three zero you read it right) mark on some occasions. Yet despite such spectacular so called autumn weather and the fact that Cyprus is literally the hottest spot in the EU, the Tourists have in the main disappeared already, when October is precisely the best time of year to visit, along with spring. In fact Tourism arrivals are down by 10.7% overall during the first 9 months of 2009 with 1.75 million tourist recorded, compared to 1.96 compared to 2008.

What is fascinating about these numbers is that the worst decline in arrivals stems from the usually buoyant Russian market, which is massive 20.1% down. Is it the downturn or are they finding new places to vacation to? Sweden is down 19.1% and the UK (most important market to Cyprus) is down 7.2%, less than expected, especially with the ultra weak pound.

There are some bright spots though, as the Austrian market is up 17.5% (must be plenty of money left in the banks there!) and Czech visitors (emerging market) rising by 7.9%. The Cyprus Tourism Organisation predicts that overall in 2009 arrivals will be down by around 10%, which sounds about right to me.

Europe which interestingly receives half of all the tourists on our planet is down by 5% year on year thus far, hence Cyprus is fairing somewhat badly. We can take consolation by the fact Mediterranean countries such as Greece, Spain and Italy also performed lower than the average in 2009.

World Tourism is expected to return to modest growth by the half way mark of 2010, according to the Secretary General of the UN's Tourism Body. So there is light at the end of the tunnel, but its not shining brightly and only a vision.

At Perpetual Traveller we feel this recession should be the catalyst of opportunity for Cyprus to improve its image perception, become more visitor friendly (the values of service seem to have lost their way like much of the competition) and most importantly to offer far greater value for money in all related Tourism activity, which may require greater regulation. People are becoming increasingly tired of being ripped off when they travel, especially if quality service is not a reality or authentic. Image, service and value for money we expect to be key priorities at the WTM event at Excel centre in London, which is one of our November Worldwide Events.