Cyprus says tourism year ‘won’t be brilliant, but good’.

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NICOSIA, June 15 (Reuters) – Cyprus’s tourism sector is starting to recover its losses from the pandemic, with arrivals approaching 2019’s record levels despite fewer visitors from Russia, Deputy Minister of Tourism Savvas Perdios said on Wednesday.

He said more than half a million people had visited the island in the first four months of the year, adding: “That represents about 80% of arrivals in 2019, which was a record year (in terms of arrivals).”

“That we are at 80% of 2019 arrivals gives us some courage that it won’t be the tragic year (that) many may have expected. It won’t be a brilliant year, but it will be a good one,” Perdios said.

In recent years, about 20% of Cyprus’s tourists have come from Russia, with Ukrainians accounting for about 2.4%. Both markets have been severely disrupted after Russia invaded Ukraine in February.

As well as supporting traditional markets like France, Switzerland, Austria and Scandinavia, in the last three years authorities have focused on developing new markets, and Perdios said those efforts were starting to bear fruit.

Just under 4 million tourists visited Cyprus in 2019, with arrivals slumping over the following two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The UK market is the island’s largest, making up a third of all arrivals.

(Writing By Michele Kambas; Editing by Catherine Evans)

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