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19 June, 2024
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Tourism prospects in Cyprus under threat after attacks on Arab tourists

Tourist arrivals surge in Cyprus, but can safety concerns be overcome?

Maria Eracleous

Maria Eracleous

Two months ago, a group from the Deputy Ministry of Tourism, led by the Deputy Minister, visited the United Arab Emirates. Their goal was to check out the tourism potential in that area and strengthen cooperation with the aim of attracting more tourists from the region. It has been repeatedly mentioned that the Middle East is a promising market for tourism in Cyprus, especially after the City of Dreams Mediterranean casino opened in Limassol, which is expected to draw more tourists from these countries.

However, recent events in Limassol have cast a shadow on these prospects. An attack on Arab tourists in the city is not only a tragedy for Cyprus but also a potential threat to its image abroad. People in the tourism industry are speaking out against these unacceptable incidents, which tarnish our reputation as a welcoming tourist destination. It is crucial for the government to address these issues promptly.

Deputy Minister Costas Koumis expressed his concerns about the culture of violence that has been present in Cyprus for years. He emphasized that Cyprus is still a safe place to visit, but the concern lies in the image these incidents create abroad. The Deputy Minister assured that there have been no complaints from Arab markets, and they are working to ensure that the affected tourists can enjoy their vacation in Cyprus again.

The incident came to light when Foreign Ministry Director-General Kyriakos Kourou posted on social media about meeting with an ambassador from an Arab country. Some of their citizens were among the victims of the Limassol incident. After the attack, the group of tourists decided to cut short their vacation and leave Cyprus. Additionally, there have been reports in foreign media about a British tourist alleging sexual assault by a group of Israeli tourists, which is under investigation. These incidents are concerning, given that Cyprus is trying to attract visitors from these markets, and this year's arrival numbers have already shown improvement compared to last year.

Let's take a look at the arrival figures from the Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean markets (Lebanon, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Armenia, etc.). According to the Statistical Office, there were 329 thousand tourist arrivals from these markets in January-July 2023. Israel had the highest number of arrivals at 236 thousand, followed by Lebanon with 23 thousand visitors and 13,338 arrivals from the United Arab Emirates. The Deputy Minister of Tourism noted that these numbers have significantly increased compared to previous years. However, this positive trend could change if Cyprus is no longer perceived as a safe destination.

[This article was translated from its Greek original]

Cyprus  |  tourism  |  Arab  |  ministry

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