Cyprus, a leisure destination that grows in wedding tourism

Tourism is an important sector to Cyprus’ economy, registering an interesting growth in international tourism flows. As reported by the “Travel & Tourism Economic Impact 2017” by the World Travel & Tourism Council, in 2016 tourism generated a direct contribution of 1.283 million euros, namely 7,2% of total GDP. It is foreseen to generate a value of 1.914 mln euros in 2027, representing 9,1% of GDP. The total contribution, including the indirect and induced ones, was 3.818 mln euros, namely 21,4% of GDP.
Cyprus is, without any doubt, a leisure destination. In fact, in 2016, 92,2% of direct Travel & Tourism GDP was represented by national and international tourist expense for this purpose. It is also important to underline that international tourist expense represented 90,4% of direct Travel & Tourism GDP. As reported by the Statistical Service of the Ministry of Finance, last year international arrivals to Cyprus grew by 20%, namely more than 3,2 million people. The Country, along with Portugal and Spain, was one of the most popular destinations of the summer season, mostly due to British tourists (+17%), which were more than 1 million in 2016. Further performing origin markets were Russia, Greece, Israel and Germany. In fact, in spite of the general threat deriving from international terrorism in the Country, as reported by the UK Foreign Travel Advice, and despite its proximity to Turkey and Syria, this island is still considered as one of the safest Mediterranean destinations. Given the growing number of tourists visiting the Country, the Government is planning further safety measures, cooperating with the police and with other organisations operating in the tourism sector, such as the Cyprus Tourism Organization.

As reported by the “Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report” by the World Economic Forum, Cyprus is 36th out of 141 analysed Countries. This positive performance is probably due to an organised “Tourist Service Infrastructure” (2nd place) and to the “Prioritization of Travel & Tourism” policies (3rd place). The Country can also count on its “Ground and Port Infrastructure” (23rd) and “Air Transport Infrastructure” (46th), which ease the tourism arrivals. On the other hand, the weakest points of the destination are “Price Competitiveness” (111st) and “Environmental Sustainability” (83rd).

One of the most interesting trends in 2016 was the so-called “wedding tourism”. According to the Cyprus Tourism Organization, about 8.000 civil weddings are celebrated in the Country every year, of which 5.000 are organised by British tourists. This is one of the reasons why TUI UK signed a deal with, in order to simplify the administrative procedures required to get married in Cyprus and in Greece.

In 2013, the Cyprus Tourism Organization signed a cooperation agreement with the Cyprus Medical Association to promote the Country as a medical tourism destination. During the last ITB held in Berlin, they announced new agreements to foster the growth of this segment.

During the visit of the Cyprus Undersecretary of the President to Israel, the Government showed its intention of starting several collaborations with the Israeli Government in the business, innovation and tourism sector. In March, ISSTA Lines, part of the Israel’s biggest tourism company ISSTA Assets, started a joint acquisition together with the chain Fattal Hotel Management of 800 hotel rooms of 3 different resorts located in the area of Paphos, for a value of 80 million euros.

At Twissen we observed that Cyprus is a mature leisure destination. There is room for developing business in the wedding tourism segment, in particular for the British demand. A major attention paid to sustainability could further enhance the tourism performances of the destination.