NICOSIA: Tourism spending in Cyprus in the first 10 months of 2013 hit 1.95 billion euros, more than last year’s total, boosting hopes the sector will ease the economy out of recession, official data showed Friday.
Tourism revenues of 1.95 billion euros ($2.66 billion) up until October surpassed the 1.92 billion euros spent by holidaymakers during the whole of last year.
And debt-ridden Cyprus’ tourism income increased 16.6 percent in October alone compared to the same month in 2012, offering a financial lifeline for the troubled economy which needed a 10 billion euro bailout in March.
Revenue from tourism reached 46.6 million euros in October, compared to 211.5 million in the same month last year.
The government is hoping burgeoning tourism income can help it recover from the Eurogroup’s “haircut” on bank deposits imposed in March as part of a 23 billion euros deal with international lenders to save the EU member’s banking system and a bankrupt economy.
Already in 2012, arrivals increased 3 percent to reach 2.46 million visitors – a seven-year high – from 2.39 million for 2011, while tourism income increased 10.2 percent to 1.92 billion euros.
This followed from a 12.9 percent jump in revenue in 2011 compared to the 2010 figure of 1.54 billion euros.
The Mediterranean holiday island is attracting big-spending Russians, while many British – the island’s leading market – and Germans are going elsewhere.
Russians now make up the second biggest source of tourists for Cyprus, where tourism accounts for about 12 percent of GDP.
But the banking crisis and austerity have changed the once robust economy to one of recession and EU bailout economics.
This year, the economy is expected to shrink by 7.7 percent, with most economists expecting the recession to continue until 2015.
Holidaymakers to Cyprus hit an all-time high of 2.69 million in 2001, spending 2.17 billion euros.