In 2023, ‘Cyprus’ was searched millions of times. Who searched for the island? When did they look us up? Why were they fascinated?

Did you know that Cyprus was one of the world’s most Googled travel destinations in 2023?

According to Condé Nast Traveller (which recently reported on the topic), they were dreaming of our ‘soft beaches’, ‘lush vineyards’, and the ‘twinkling Mediterranean’…

We’ll come back to exactly where Cyprus placed in a minute.

But for now, what’s important is where the ranking came from. Because this isn’t an arbitrary list made up by a desk-bound minion fantasising of white sands and sultry sunsets. On the contrary, the data came straight from Google’s ‘Year in Search’ – a tool that explains what everyone, (almost) everywhere was most interested in over the previous year…

Greece, for instance, most frequently Googled Sin Boy, botulism and Olympiacos. Germany was captivated by Harry Kane, Oppenheimer and climate protection. The UK was gripped by Huw Edwards, Barbie and the Coronation.

India was fascinated by the G20. Argentina frequently searched the phrase ‘when is the match?’ And among France’s favourite queries was ‘what is chemsex?’ (Which we then Googled too. And then wished we hadn’t.)

But it’s often the ‘how’ and ‘why’ questions that are the most intriguing. While South Africa wanted to know ‘how is Celine Dion doing?’, and Americans wondered ‘how often do you think about the Roman empire?’, back in Greece, everyone was asking ‘why is my hair electrified?’ and ‘why do we fly kites?’

Meanwhile, in Chile, the population wanted to know ‘why are bees important?’. Belgians frequently posed the question ‘why does my dog lick me?’. And the poor Finnish kept asking ‘why do Russians act the way they do?’.

As of now, Google has no specific Cyprus category, so we don’t know exactly what was on our collective local minds last year. But what we can see is precisely when our island impacted global consciousness: there’s a chart that tells you exactly when ‘Cyprus’ was most Googled, and who by

The July heatwave in July caused a lot of interest

The people of 70 nations paid our island notable attention in 2023.

Obviously, those with a large Cypriot diaspora (Britain, Australia, America, South Africa) searched the term ‘Cyprus’ more often than others. But countries such as Kenya, Nigeria and Ghana also took an interest (make of that what you will), as did Russia, Japan and Indonesia.

The remaining African countries paid us little attention. Most of South America was similarly unconcerned. Despite our recent fascination with China, the feeling was not mutual, although the Hubei and Hebei provinces did take a passing interest – particularly in Nicosia.

Globally speaking, searches for ‘Cyprus’ peaked four times in the previous 12 months. First in May (the world is a lot more invested in Eurovision than we suspect). Then in early September (the riots); in mid-October (Cyprus v Norway football match); and lastly in November (when Cat Covid began its global journey, and the British dailies broke into a frenzied feline furor).

The Scotland v Cyprus Uefa Euro Qualifiers also saw a spike in searches for ‘Cyprus’, as did the heart-breaking deaths of 24 Turkish Cypriot children following the earthquake-induced collapse of their hotel. In spring, potential visitors were particularly concerned by the search term ‘Cyprus Jet2’, after the airline suspended all flights. And ‘David Hunter Cyprus’ also saw the island back in the limelight, as the world watched the trial of the British pensioner accused of mercy killing his terminally ill wife.

As always, searches for ‘Cyprus’ are high in March and April – the time when Milton Keynes en masse begins to dream of the sun. But then, between July 16 and 22 of last year, the search-term ‘Cyprus weather’ hit an all-time high, when travellers realised they’d be arriving to a horrible heatwave!

When Cat Covid jumped to the UK, searches for ‘Cyprus’ suddenly soared

Which brings us back, in a roundabout way, to where we began. Because Cyprus, according to Condé Nast’s in-depth examination of Google’s search trends, was the sixth most-searched travel destination in the world in 2023!

Ahead of colourful Morocco in 10th place, Mediterranean rival Malta in ninth, Egypt in eighth, and perennial favourite Thailand in seventh position, just five other travel destinations were more frequently searched than Cyprus.

While Condé Nast (which had early access to Google’s travel destination data) notes that Cyprus has gorgeous seas and excellent food, the island was pipped to fifth place by Croatia’s affordability. Fourth was Portugal, with its thermal waters and turquoise lagoons (it doesn’t hurt that Lisbon was recently named Europe’s most budget-friendly city break). Third was Italy, lauded for its arts, culture, food, and fashion. And second place went to Spain, which apparently has no off-season, but just keeps pulling in the visitors all year round.

But the number one most Googled travel destination of 2023 was – wait for it! – Greece.

Greece was the most Googled travel destination in the world in 2023

Greece has topped the list of the most Googled countries to travel to in 2023,” writes Condé Nast, courtesy of their inside info. “From the whitewashed island of Mykonos with its sugar cube buildings and iconic addresses to the jungle vibes of Kefalonia, known for its hiking trails and rustic villages, Greece is the destination that keeps on giving.” From the beaches of Corfu to the Santorini sunsets – it’s described as a country that’s “bound to impress, time after time.”

Especially, we suspect, given the cost of a Greek vacation! Many travel sites list the country as among the most affordable holiday destinations in the world. Priority Pass suggests that the capital, Athens, is the most budget friendly tourist city around: €50 a day, they say, will get you everything from transport to food, attractions and comfortable accommodation.

Quite whether this assertion is true, we’re not sure. (Answers on a postcard, please!) But what we can tell you is that the Google data shows the search term ‘Cyprus cost’ has just begun to trend. Makes you think, doesn’t it?

(Cyprus Mail)