Cyprus tourism revenues rose 5.9 percent in 2007

NICOSIA (Reuters) – Cyprus’s revenues from tourism grew 5.9 percent last year to 1.09 billion Cyprus pounds ($2.73 billion), the statistics department said yesterday. Total 2007 arrivals reached 2,416,081 and were 0.6 percent above 2006 levels. After tourist spending peaked at 1.27 billion Cyprus pounds in 2001, the island’s tourism industry entered a prolonged period of falling or stagnant revenues. Thasos Katsourides, permanent secretary of the island’s travel agents association, said the island still has a lot to do to reverse the negative trends in tourism. «We performed better in 2007, but we cannot say that the negative trend is over. There was no substantial increase in arrivals and the UK and German market offer reasons for concern.» Arrivals from the UK and Germany fell 5.7 percent and 9.4 percent, respectively, in 2007 but this was offset by more arrivals from mainly Greece and Russia. The island also has to struggle with increasing seasonality-related problems. «We are still worried about off-season tourism. We already witness the phenomenon of hotels remaining closed over the winter season,» Katsourides said. Analysts say reasons for the downturn in tourism revenues and arrivals in recent years are attributed to environmental degradation and the loss of price competitiveness. The island’s tourism industry and authorities want to reposition the island on the tourist market with an ambitious 10-year strategic development plan but its implementation is behind schedule.