The Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO) will set up an office in Dubai, due to the strong tourism ties between the two destinations, according to a Cyprus government official.

"The CTO has decided to open its office in Dubai shortly, probably before the Arabian Travel Market in May," said Youssef El Guindi, Cyprus' commercial counsellor in Dubai.

"Tourist arrivals from the Gulf to Cyprus have been growing over the past few years, which prompted the government to decide on setting up the office in Dubai."

The Cyprus government is currently holding talks with Turkish Cypriot leaders under the auspices of the UN on the island's unification which will pave the way for the republic to enter the EU in May. The move will also help the island increase its visitor intake in the coming years.

Cyprus last year recorded 2.3 million tourist arrivals, down by 4.76 per cent compared with 2.41 million visitors recorded in 2002. However, the number of tourists from the Arab countries recorded 13.3 per cent growth, reaching 32,260 tourists last year compared with 28,515 in 2002.

The number of tourists from the Gulf countries to Cyprus grew by 4.8 per cent, reaching 18,462 last year from the previous year's 17,616.

Cyprus has 242 hotels with a capacity of 52,985 beds. By last September, its serviced apartments sector had 265 units with 23,463 beds.

The country also has tourist villages, villas and traditional lodges to host visitors. Its total capacity last year stood at 95,532 beds in 960 units.

Tourism is an important aspect of the Cypriot economy.

At the end of 2002, tourism industry employment rose to 42,955, increasing from 9,550 in 1986. The industry also recorded an income of 1.13 billion Cyprus pounds from tourists. Receipts from tourism represented 42.9 per cent of the total receipts from goods and services in 2002, according to CTO.

According to the government's estimates and growth plan, over 131,000 beds will be required to meet the projected demand for accommodation by 2010. As such, the strategy aims at the creation of 22,000 new beds in the following categories: mixed use destination resorts, three to five-star hotels, tourist villas, tourist villages and small units.

According to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), Cyprus' travel and tourism (T&T) industry was expected to generate economic activity worth $3.63 billion last year, growing at nominal terms to $7.78 by 2013. Travel and tourism demand is expected to grow by 5.5 per cent per annum between 2003 and 2013.

Last year, T&T employment is estimated to have been around 137,942, or 36.3 per cent. Capital investment in Cyprus' travel and tourism industry is estimated to have been around $363.7 million, 20.6 per cent of the total investment made last year.

Survey Statistics

1. Average per person expenditure: CYP441.50.

2. Average per day expenditure: CYP42.93.

3. Average length of stay: 10.28 days.

4. Average per person expenditure of package visitors: CYP447.43.

5. Average per person expenditure of the individual visitors: CYP420.61.

6. Visitors from Yugoslavia stayed in Cyprus the longest, with an average length of stay of 11.55 days.

7. The Pafos area (Pafos and Polis) attracted the most visitors (almost 35% of the total).

8. 82.68% of the visitors stayed in licensed accommodation establishments, while 3.47% stayed in unlicensed ones.

9. The most popular type of accommodation establishment was the 4-star hotel category, with 25.26% of the total.

10. The visitors who stayed in five-star hotels spent the most during their stay in Cyprus (CYP619.08).

11. 1.46% of all tourists had been on a cruise in the period under examination.

12. Cruises were most popular with the Poles, as 3.56% of them went on a cruise.

13. 46.81% of all the tourists had been in Cyprus before (76.18% of the Greek tourists).

14. The visitors who stayed in Paralimni in the period from January to March, in the hill resorts between April and October and in Larnaka between November and December gave these areas the highest holiday experience rating.

15. The highest ratings for the overall value for money for the same periods as in (15) above, were given to Paralimni (in the January to March period) and Larnaka (the other two periods).

- Source: Cyprus Tourism Organisation