About Cyprus


Foundations and Growth

The foundations of Cyprus%26rsquo; tourism were laid in the early sixties. Its progress had been smooth and successful until the summer of the 1974 Turkish invasion. All economic activity came to a standstill and the tourist sector suffered a devastating blow when the two highly developed regions of Famagusta and Kyrenia fell in the hands of the invaders. This had as a result the loss of 13.000 beds constituting 71,7% of the total bed capacity at the time, plus 5.000 beds under construction and about 40% of the island%26rsquo;s tourist facilities in restaurants, cafes, bars and nightclubs.

The government, through the Cyprus Tourism Organisation, which is a semi-government organisation responsible for the planning, promotion and marketing of the tourist industry, and the island%26rsquo;s hoteliers and other related tourist professionals, worked hard for the reactivation of tourism in the free areas of the Republic and the re-establishment of Cyprus on the world tourist map. The Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism oversees the activities of the Organisation.

Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO)
Cyprus Tourism Organisation%26rsquo;s services have been extended over the years, and at present they include the Head Office Services in Nicosia and the Regional Office Services.

The Overseas Services consist of seventeen tourist offices maintained in London, Frankfurt, Paris, Stockholm, Athens, Zurich, Moscow, Milan, Amsterdam, Brussels, Vienna, New York, Tokyo, Tel-Aviv, Budapest, Warsaw and Prague. The role of these tourist offices is the marketing and the promotion of Cyprus tourism, the servicing of the trade and the provision of information to prospective holidaymakers to Cyprus.

As a result of the strenuous efforts exerted by the Cyprus Tourism Organisation, the support given by the government through various policy measures and the entrepreneurial spirit of the Cypriot tourist professionals, tourist traffic to Cyprus began to increase after the Turkish invasion.

Tourism a Booming Industry

Tourist inflow in 2000 increased by 10,35% compared to 1999 reaching 2.686.205 tourists as against 2.434.285 in 1999. In 2000 the average expenditure per tourist increased by 8,1% compared to 1999 (C£445,67 in 2000 compared to C£412,29 in 1999) and receipts from tourism reached C£194mln in 2000.

The tourist sector is estimated to employ some 40.500 people directly involved in the industry representing 13,77% of the gainfully employed population. By the end of December 2000, the island%26rsquo;s bed capacity was 85.303.

What attracts holidaymakers to Cyprus in addition to the sun and sea is the hospitality and friendship of its people and its rich history and natural beauties. Apart from sea-related activities the holidaymakers can «escape» to pine clad mountains, visit archaeological sites, including ancient settlements, rich burial sites, beautiful mosaics and Byzantine churches and enjoy the warm hospitality of the locals.

One particularly interesting factor in tourist statistics is that a significant number of holidaymakers who come to Cyprus are «repeat visitors», the best award a tourist could perhaps give a holiday destination.

Future Challenges in Tourism Development

Strategy for Tourism 2010

However, by the early 90%26rsquo;s it had become evident that the rapid tourism development of the late 70%26rsquo;s and the 80%26rsquo;s was taking its toll on the island%26rsquo;s natural resources, natural and built environment, and on the people themselves. Moreover, changes had started to occur in the international tourism market, such as the intensifying price competition in the «sun and sea» segment that Cyprus had difficulties to match, and the turn of the consumers towards culture and nature. Both of the above indicate that the tourism development model that was applied in Cyprus in the 70%26rsquo;s and 80%26rsquo;s, and which called for developing and marketing a «sun and sea» product, had to be modified. It was evident that this product had to be upgraded, enriched and diversified.

To this end, the CTO submitted to the government for approval the Strategy for Tourism to the year 2010, the target of which is to increase total revenue from tourism to C£1,8 billion (in 1998 prices) by the year 2010. This target will be met through the pursuance of sustainable tourism development policies and through the repositioning of Cyprus in the global tourist market as a destination that offers a wide variety of interests and activities within a very limited geographical space. The Strategy will be based on quality, coupled with a very modest increase in arrivals (ca. 4% per annum). In January 2001, the Strategy was approved by the Council of Ministers.

Certain aspects of the Strategy are already being put into effect. For example, within the framework of product differentiation, new products are currently under development, such as agrotourism, athletic tourism, nautical tourism and cultural tourism.

Participation in International Organisations

The government, through the CTO, participates actively and makes a constructive contribution to international tourism organizations. It also participates in overseas exhibitions and seminars on tourism.

These international events also provide the opportunity for enlightening and informing tour operators and travel writers on the efforts of the illegal Turkish Cypriot administration to put into operation Greek Cypriot hotels in the Turkish held area of the Republic.

Major Tourist Markets

The major share of the tourist traffic to Cyprus originates from Central and Northern Europe. In 1998, the United Kingdom remained the major source of tourist traffic followed by Germany and Central Europe. Compared to 1999, in 2000 there was an increase of tourist traffic from the UK, Greece, Austria, Italy, Poland, Czech Republic and U.S.A.

The contribution of tourism to the country%26rsquo;s economy is of vital importance. In 2000, total revenue reached C£1.194 billion, which represents 21,3% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In addition, 40.000 jobs are directly or indirectly related to tourism.


During the past few years, the importance of tourism in the economic development of the island increased considerably. However, the prospects of obtaining in the future the same levels of tourist traffic depend on various internal and external factors.

On the domestic side, a number of problems have been created by the rapid growth rates of tourist development. The exogenous factors, on the other hand, have their origin in the economic difficulties that some of the countries or origin of the island%26rsquo;s tourist traffic may be facing.

In view of these problems and in order to continue to attract tourists from relatively high income groups, the main goals of the official tourist policy for the coming years are the curtailment to high rates of growth in bed supply and the improvement, enhancement and enrichment of the tourist product.


Cyprus offers a wide variety of holiday accommodation ranging from modern, large and luxurious establishments to small and simple family-run operations. Holiday accommodation includes hotels, hotel apartments, tourist villages, tourist villas, camping sites, traditional houses, tourist apartments, furnished apartments, guesthouses and youth hostels. Accommodation in private houses is not available in Cyprus.

Most hotels and hotel apartments have swimming pools, tennis courts, sports facilities, sauna, central air conditioning, etc. The rates charged by these establishments are approved by the Cyprus Tourism Organisation and most hotels offer special off-season discounts on the accommodation rates usually during the period from the 16 November to the 15 March, excluding the fortnight between 20 December and 6 January.

English is spoken in all hotels; French and German are also widely spoken. The Cyprus Hotel Guide, issued by the CTO, includes the hotels and tourist establishments officially registered and classified by the CTO in accordance with the provisions of the Hotels and Tourist Establishments Law and Regulations.

All the accommodation establishments are listed by town/area, type and class, and are in alphabetical order. Detailed information on terms of stay, rates, discounts and facilities offered by each hotel operation is included in the Guide, a copy of which can be obtained, free of charge, from any of the CTO Offices in Cyprus and abroad.

Particular Forms of Tourism

In the general effort for the upgrading of tourism, great emphasis is placed on the further development of particular forms of tourism such as conference tourism, winter tourism, agrotourism and special interests tourism. Their development and expansion can potentially alleviate the present problem of seasonality and may be a step towards a more rational utilisation of bed capacity, which could lead to a balanced disbursement of accommodation.

Conference Tourism: Cyprus has already gained a reputation as an international conference venue thanks to its location, facilities, trained personnel and a first class communications system which links the island with the outside world. Its proximity to the important Middle East markets makes it an ideal regional centre too. More and more businesses and international organisations choose the island for their meetings.

Winter Tourism: Even though the seasonality problem is not so acute in Cyprus due to the long tourist season, nevertheless special marketing efforts are devoted towards encouraging the tourist flow during the winter period. Cyprus is heavily advertised as a winter destination as Cyprus%26rsquo; mild winters of bright sunshine offer a major attraction.

Furthermore, efforts to attract third-age, conference tourism and special interest tourism also contribute to the increase of winter tourist traffic. The progress witnessed during the past few years in this field is remarkable and Cyprus has now been established as a favourite winter destination in the winter brochures of a large number of tour operators in nearly all European markets.

Domestic Tourism: The CTO and the Government attach great importance to domestic tourism because it constitutes a significant area of tourism. Therefore, during the last years efforts towards developing domestic tourism have intensified still further.
Such efforts include a number of infrastructure and development projects, as well as improvement works of existing facilities and projects. Hoteliers offer attractive prices during the summer months.

The aim of these projects is to provide better services and facilities for Cypriot holidaymakers and develop domestic tourism on a traditional basis. Within the context of this policy, the CTO continues to extend and improve existing beaches and public pavilions.

In addition, the special scheme operated by the Ministry of Labour and Social Insurance of subsidising workers%26rsquo; summer holidays has been successfully operating for many years. In 2000, a total of 8.458 workers benefited from the scheme, of which 5.482 took their holidays in the mountain resorts and 2.976 at the seaside resorts.

Agrotourism (Green Cyprus): A new chapter in Cyprus tourism is the programme for the development of agrotourism/rural tourism in Cyprus. This programme, as designed and launched by the Cyprus Tourism Organisation, encourages the conversion of traditional houses in the picturesque villages of the hinterland for tourist use (accommodation establishments, tavernas, restaurants, cultural centres, handicraft centres etc).

A significant number of traditional houses have already been converted into accommodation establishments in accordance with the relevant regulations and received their classification and operation licence from the CTO. Yet others are currently going through the above procedure.

«The Cyprus Agrotourism Company» a non-profit Organisation, which draws its membership from owners of traditional houses, has been established in 1996 to help coordinate individual marketing efforts and incoming bookings. To this end, the Cyprus Agrotourism Company is in the process of setting up a Central Reservations Office with a central reservations system and an Internet website, that will provide the Company with the capability to accept real-time bookings.

Furthermore, the Cyprus Agrotourism Company has also produced two interesting publications. The one, which is the basic promotional tool of the agrotourism product, is an attractive pamphlet, with general information on the product itself. The other is a Traditional Homes Guide, which provides detailed descriptions of 40 such homes, combined with information on the villages that host them.

The general information pamphlet is published in English and German whereas the Guide is published in Greek, English, German, French and Italian. Both these publications are available free of charge from any CTO office in Cyprus or abroad.

In all, in the face of agrotourism, a promising sustainable tourist product is being developed. In fact, the potential of agrotourism in Cyprus was duly recognised by British Airways, which presented the Cyprus Agrotourism Programme with the European Winner Award of the prestigious «Tourism of Tomorrow» Awards.

Nature Trails

Before the technological revolution and the dominance of the motor vehicle, paths and cart tracks made up the main road network in Cyprus and the only link among the villages and between the villages and the towns.

Nowadays, the cart tracks have virtually disappeared, with only a few traces remaining near old bridges, while post paths are now covered in thick vegetation. The remaining few are used mainly for exercise, nature study and recreation. With financial support from the CTO, the Forestry Department has created forty-eight paths or trails which cover a total distance of 200 km in various parts of the island, from Cavo Greco at the southeastern end to Akamas in the west.

These have been carefully designed to cover areas with rich natural vegetation and cultural interests. They have been constructed on gentle gradients and are, as a rule, circular so that all groups can use them with ease. Many of these trails have been networked and grouped in areas.

The European Blue Flag Campaign

Cyprus introduced the European Blue Flag Campaign, an environmental information and education campaign, and became a full member of the Foundation for Environmental Education in Europe (FEEE) in 1995.

The «Blue Flag» is an exclusive eco-label awarded to beaches which fulfil a number of criteria, including the quality of the bathing water, environmental education and information and beach area management and safety.

In 2000 the European Jury awarded the «European Blue Flag» to 1.949 beaches in 21 European countries including 29 beaches in Cyprus.

The successful implementation of the Blue Flag Campaign in Cyprus has made a positive contribution towards the qualitative improvement of the island%26rsquo;s beaches as well as the overall tourism promotion of Cyprus abroad. It is undoubtedly an important initiative within the framework of the harmonisation effort with the European Union acquis communautaire.

In addition, the Campaign has made a positive impact on the improvement of the tourist product of our coastal areas, which are invaluable national assets and vital components of island%26rsquo;s tourist product.

Entry Date 18/9/2001