Cyprus tourist numbers down 5.3% as bailout takes toll

Tuesday, 17 September 2013 00:29 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

NICOSIA (Reuters): The number of tourists visiting Cyprus fell 5.3% in the first eight months of 2013, data showed on Monday, as the island nation was forced to accept a harsh international bailout early in the year. The number of German and British holidaymakers to the Mediterranean island tumbled 36% and 13%, respectively, Statistics Department figures showed. More Britons visit Cyprus each year than any other nationality. “The market froze in March and April after the crisis. Maybe there were concerns there would be social upheaval like in Greece,” said Lakis Avraamides, who represents a tourism marketing board. The drop was counterbalanced by a newly emerging Russian market, from which arrivals rose 25%on an annual basis as tour operators put on extra flight capacity, despite rich Russians getting hit particularly hard in the bailout deal. In total, 1.63 million tourists visited the island from January to August, compared to 1.72 million last year. Cyprus signed up to an austerity program and shut down one of its largest banks in March to qualify for 10 billion euros in aid. Unlike other euro zone nations, there has been very little display of public unrest over the program of reduced spending other than the odd small-scale demonstration outside parliament.