Stayaway Russians behind Cyprus tourist arrivals drop
The tourism sector in bailed-out Cyprus was hit by a 1.5 percent fall in arrivals in June because of a slide in Russian visitors to the island, official data showed Friday.
According to the figures, 336,967 tourists arrived on the holiday island last month, down from 342,221 in June 2014.
This was mainly due to a 24 percent fall in arrivals from Russia -- the island's second largest market after Britain.
The fall from Russia was offset by a 10 percent spike in visitors from Britain and a 5.5 percent jump in Swedish holidaymakers.
There was also a huge increase of 49 percent from Greece.
For the January-June period, tourist arrivals climbed 5.7 percent to 1.03 million from 979,838 in the first six months of 2014.
Tourism officials expect an annual increase of around five percent despite the shrinking Russian market.
Last year, tourist arrivals totalled 2.44 million, compared to 2.40 million in 2013, recording an increase of 1.5 percent.
Cyprus is benefitting from more direct flights but industry experts say Russians are feeling the economic pinch.
The island hopes the key sector can help pull the economy out of recession in 2015.
Cyprus needed a EUR10 billion ($13 billion at the time) bailout from international lenders in 2013 to save its banking industry and stop the eurozone member going bankrupt.
Although tourist arrivals were down in 2013, the 2.08 billion euro revenue received was the best for a decade.
Income from tourism accounts for around 12 percent of the Mediterranean island's GDP.
© 2015 AFP