NICOSIA -- Bailed out Cyprus overcame financial meltdown brought on by a banking crisis to record an 8% hike in tourism revenue last year, official data showedon Friday.
Despite annual tourist arrivals dipping 2.4% to 2.4 million in 2013, revenue generated from holidaymakers increased to 2.08 billion euros – its highest level for more than a decade - from 1.92 billion in 2012.
This level was achieved even though tourism income in December 2013 fell 9.6% to €37.6 million from €41.6m in the same month of the previous year.
Cyprus also came close to matching its record year for tourism revenue when €2.17 billion was spent in 2001.
Improved tourist spending has reaffirmed hopes that resurgence in the key sector will pull the economy out of recession quicker than expected while limiting the extent of the contraction.
A deep recession in Cyprus has bottomed out and the island’s shell-shocked economy looks set to start growing again next year the EU predicts.
The government had feared that the recession would deepen into double-digit figures in the wake of the bailout crisis in March last year.
But in its winter forecast released earlier this week, the European Commission predicted the Cyprus economy will shrink 4.8% this year from 6% in 2013.
Brussels said nascent domestic demand in Cyprus would support 0.9% growth in 2015 as households and businesses gradually ease their debt burdens.
Nicosia believes burgeoning tourism income has helped a ‘miracle recovery’ from the Eurogroup’s deposits haircut slap as part of a €23b bail-in/bailout deal with international lenders.