NICOSIA, Cyprus (AFP) — Cyprus saw its best ever receipts from tourism in 2017, official data showed on Monday, in a record year for the eastern Mediterranean holiday island considered a regional safe haven.
Tourism income last year reached 2.63 billion euros (US$3.23 billion) beating the 2.36 billion record set in 2016, an 11.7 per cent increase, according to the Cyprus statistical service.
The surge in tourist spending coincides with another record year in arrivals, with more than 3.65 million people visiting the island last year — 14.6 per cent up from the 3.18 million visitors in 2016.
The expenditure per person, per day for the period January to December 2017 recorded a decrease of 2.6 per cent (from 78.07 euros to 76.07).
In December the Lebanese were the biggest spenders on an average 147.88 euros per day and the most frugal were the Norwegians on 25.81 euros per day.
The island has benefited from a surge in arrivals from its largest markets Britain and Russia as well as a revival in those coming from Germany, Sweden and Israel.
Cyprus is seen as a safe haven for tourists, with other traditionally popular destinations in the eastern Mediterranean having been hit by political upheaval and security fears.
The surge has helped Cyprus return to growth following a 10-billion-euro package to rescue its crumbling economy and insolvent banks in March 2013.
Income from tourism accounts for about 12 per cent of the eurozone member's gross domestic product and is credited with ensuring a relatively quick recovery.