NICOSIA, Aug. 8 (Xinhua) -- The number of tourists visiting Cyprus in the first six months of 2022 was 75 percent of the figure for the same period in 2019, Chairman of the Association of Cyprus Tourist Enterprises (ACTE) Akis Vavlitis said on Monday.
A record number of almost 4 million people visited Cyprus in 2019, which was a record tourist year, and also the last year before the coronavirus pandemic.
"Under the circumstances, these numbers are satisfactory, given the fact that Cyprus lost 20 percent of arrivals, around 900,000 visitors, who came from Russia and Ukraine," Vavlitis told the state-run Cyprus News Agency.
Only between 5,000 and 6,000 Russian visitors have been registered this summer, Vavlitis said. These arrived "through other channels," as direct flights between Cyprus and Russia have been banned under EU sanctions.
Russians and Ukrainians have traditionally visited Cyprus due to historical links and common cultural elements, most notably Greek Orthodox Christianity.
Vavlitis estimated that tourism in July, for which no complete data are available yet, will also be around 75 percent of arrivals in July 2019.
Although bookings for September and October have already been made, the actual number of arrivals could not be predicted due to the possibility of flight cancellations, and the impact of the energy crisis.
Vavlitis also said he could not make an estimate for tourist arrivals in 2023, since the tourism industry as a whole is being affected by the war in Ukraine, the energy crisis in Europe and the economic challenges faced by the countries which contribute the most visitors to Cyprus.
These countries are the United Kingdom, Greece, Israel, France, Germany, Italy and the Scandinavian countries.
The tourism and travel sectors are the biggest contributors to the Cypriot economy, accounting for 22.7 percent of the eastern Mediterranean island's 2019 gross domestic product (GDP) of 20.9 billion euros ( 24.95 billion U.S. dollars).