Tourism in Cyprus takes a beating from coronavirus

The tourism sector, steam engine of Cyprus’ economy contributing 21 percent to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), slumped by 95.5 percent in January year-on-year as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, according to data released by the Statistical Service of Cyprus (CYSTAT) on Wednesday.

CYSTAT said that only 3,889 tourists arrived in the country in January this year, most of them from Greece and a small number from Germany, compared to over 85,000 a year ago.

Between January and December last year, 631,609 tourists visited Cyprus, compared to four million in 2019.

Tourism revenues are estimated to have decreased by 85 percent to about 400 million euros (482 million U.S. dollars) in 2020, down from 2.628 billion euros in 2019.

Despite the big income loss from tourism, Cyprus’ GDP contracted by only 5.1 percent in 2020, a milder drop than originally projected, according to Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union.

Initial projections at the peak of the pandemic said that Cyprus’ GDP would drop by about 7.2 percent in 2020 year-on-year.

In a bid to revive tourism after the peak of the pandemic in January, Cyprus signed an agreement earlier this week with Israel to allow in Israeli tourists with a so-called green coronavirus passport showing that they have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

Cypriots who have been vaccinated would also be able to travel freely to Israel.