Nicosia: Almost three million tourists visited Cyprus in the first 10 months of 2016, data showed Thursday, ensuring a record year for the island seen as a regional safe haven.
The finance ministry said the number of tourists visiting the eastern Mediterranean country rose 20.3 percent to 2,974,412 in January-October compared with the same period in 2015.
Arrivals in October alone increased 32.6 percent from 2015 to 357,194, it said, meaning Cyprus has already beaten its previous best figures for a full year: 2.69 million posted in 2001.
Cyprus has benefitted from an upsurge in arrivals, especially from its largest markets Britain and Russia along with a revival in those coming from Greece and Israel.
The island is seen a safe haven for tourists, with other traditionally popular destinations in the eastern Mediterranean -- including Egypt and Turkey -- having been hit by upheaval in the past few years.
Its latest figures for October included a 16.9 percent rise in the number of tourists from Britain, the country`s largest source of holidaymakers, said the finance ministry.
Those from its second biggest market, Russia, jumped 132.1 percent.
The figures were hailed by the finance ministry and Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO).
"The results indicate that the initial estimate of the CTO for an exceptional year are verified and the strategic target set at more than three million arrivals for 2016 will be achieved," said the state-run tourism body.
The upsurge is a boon for Cyprus, which has returned to growth following a 10-billion-euro rescue package to save its crumbling economy and insolvent banks in March 2013.
Income from tourism accounts for about 12 percent of the eurozone member`s gross domestic product and is credited for helping to achieve the relatively quick recovery.