ECONOMY

Cyprus to turn to other tourism markets

Cyprus to turn to other tourism markets

The Cypriot Ministry of Transport and the Deputy Ministry for Tourism in Nicosia are striving to offset the impact of the halt to airport traffic from Russia after Cyprus, along with the rest of the European Union member-states, closed its air space to Russian aircraft following the invasion of Ukraine, according to the island’s Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos. The minister said on Monday he hoped these measures would yield good results.

On Sunday Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides had expressed Cyprus’ support for measures discussed with EU counterparts during an informal videoconference, including the closing of the bloc’s airspace to Russian aircraft. He added that Nicosia gives its consent without prejudice to its right to reconsider the decision in case Turkey refuses to shut its own airspace.

Speaking to the Cyprus News Agency, Karousos said Cyprus estimated that air traffic to and from Russia was in the region of 1.3 million this year, which could amount to 15% of Cyprus’ total air traffic.

Russia has traditionally been Cyprus’ second tourist market following the United Kingdom.

“We believe that this [air traffic] will be lost if the situation continues,” Karousos said, noting that since the Covid pandemic broke out the ministry has been working to improve the Mediterranean island’s air connectivity.

“This is yielding results and in 2021 we had more destinations compared with 2019,” the minister added, pointing out that statistics showed Cyprus had one of the lowest reductions in air connectivity.

As he said, “the aim is to offset the impact we will have from the Russian and the Ukrainian market with other destinations.”

Noting that there is interest from other air carriers, Karousos said, “We are in contact with airlines to provide more options and other destinations and we are doing everything possible to offset any impact by this decision.”

Without elaborating, Karousos said there will be significant announcements concerning air connectivity in the coming days.

Furthermore, according to Cypriot airports, Cyprus expected 20 flights per week in March, to and from Russia, corresponding to roughly 6% to 6.5% of total air traffic, and flights were expected to rise to 12% of total flights in April.