Cyprus’ key tourism industry plunges 84% amid virus

Cyprus went from record tourist arrivals in 2019 to one of its worst ever years, with visitor numbers plunging 84 percent amid Covid-19 restrictions, official data showed Monday.

The coronavirus pandemic has decimated the island’s crucial industry, with tourist arrivals slumping from 3.97 million in 2019 to 631,609 in 2020, the government’s Cyprus Statistical Service said.

Tourism usually contributes around 15 percent to GDP, generating 2.68 billion euros in 2019.

But tourist arrivals nosedived after Cyprus imposed lockdown measures to limit the spread of Covid-19.

There were also travel restrictions imposed on Cyprus’ main tourist markets — Britain, Russia and Israel — while quarantine measures across Europe also hampered travellers.

The pandemic ended four successive record years of tourist arrivals, that helped Cyprus emerge from a financial crisis in 2013.

In December, tourist arrivals were only 9,682, an annual reduction of 91 percent.

While the government acted swiftly to contain the pandemic when cases were first recorded in March, Cyprus has since struggled to contain the outbreak.

A ban on commercial flights in March was gradually lifted in early June.

But the island is now its second lockdown, with most European Union arrivals denied entry because of their Covid-19 risk status.

The Cyprus Covid-19 case tally is now at 29,130 cases and 175 deaths.