Cyprus stands out as the European country with the lowest rate of international travel. While only 15 percent of Cypriots have never left the island, a staggering 48 percent rarely venture beyond its shores. So, why is this the case?
Firstly, the size and geography of Cyprus play a role. Being a small island, it lacks the diverse landscapes and weather variations found in larger countries. The predictable sunny weather across the island and the absence of extensive train networks make traveling abroad less necessary for locals.
Comparing Cyprus to other European nations, it becomes evident that the country's unique characteristics contribute to the low travel rates. Countries like Bulgaria, Hungary, and Romania have high percentages of citizens who never leave due to factors such as lower income, distinct language and culture, and an abundance of scenic variety within their own borders.
Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted travel plans for many, including Cypriots. However, even before the pandemic, a significant portion of the population had not traveled abroad in recent years.
Several personal reasons contribute to Cypriots' reluctance to travel. For Luke, a Cypriot who grew up in the UK, the mandatory military service upon returning to Cyprus deterred him from leaving the island. Rami, a Cypriot with a Lebanese background, faces travel restrictions due to unresolved child support payments and limited job prospects. Money is a constraint for Kumari, a Sri Lankan domestic worker who has been working in Cyprus for 12 years without a break to support her family.
Psychological factors also play a role. Georgia, a 48-year-old researcher, experiences anxiety and fear of flying, making it impossible for her to consider leaving Cyprus. Moreover, some individuals, like Aphrodite, an elderly woman, have found contentment and fulfillment in Cyprus and have no desire to explore other countries.
In conclusion, the combination of geographic limitations, personal circumstances, financial constraints, and psychological factors contributes to the low rate of international travel among Cypriots. While some choose to stay close to home, others face barriers that prevent them from embarking on overseas adventures.