Before the war in Ukraine, Cyprus welcomed about 800,000 tourists from Russia and Ukraine every year. Due to the ban on flights by the EU, the Cypriot travel industry, which specialized in the Russian market, is suffering.
Until the outbreak of the corona pandemic, hundreds of Russian and Ukrainian Orthodox believers came to Cyprus every day to the Kykkos Monastery to venerate the icon of Mary, covered with silver. According to tradition, it was made by the Evangelist Luke from beeswax and mastic and blessed by the Virgin herself as a faithful image of her image.
Due to the war and the European Union’s ban on Russian flights, the estimated Russian and Ukrainian holidaymakers have practically dropped to zero. In the record year 2019, they accounted for a fifth of all tourists in the island state in the Mediterranean Sea south of Turkey.
Vassos Xidias is the owner of the tavern “Vassos”, which sells seafood at the port of Ayia Napa. The revenues of his business have decreased by up to 50% this year due to the fact that he lost the Russian market. Now we would find out to what extent Cyprus can compensate for this through the European market and other markets, according to Xidias. It is a gamble and you have to wait for the next four months of the tourist season, said the tavern owner.
Tourism accounts for 10% of the gross domestic product in Cyprus. The corona pandemic and the ongoing war in Ukraine have a significant impact on companies in the sector.
The Deputy Minister of Tourism of Cyprus, Savvas Perdios, estimates that the losses from Russian and Ukrainian visitors this year will amount to about 600 million euros, although before the war it was assumed that the number of visitors would approach that of 2019. “But in terms of revenues, the consequences for our tourism industry will be less than the percentage of missing travelers, because most tourists from Russia booked package tours. Spending per person per day is lower among travelers from Russia than in many other markets,” Perdios explained.
Cyprus has one of the shortest flight connections from Russia to all holiday destinations in the Mediterranean, but the EU ban on flights has nullified this advantage. Despite the unrest, the authorities say that Cyprus, thanks to its foresight and planning to find new markets even before Russia invaded Ukraine, will compensate for a significant part of the lost revenue. In order to reduce the losses, Cyprus has been trying to attract holidaymakers from EU countries for months. Meanwhile, there are much more direct flights to Cyprus from Germany, France and Scandinavian countries. Countries where, on average, more is spent per day than in Russia.
While two years ago there were no direct flights from France to Cyprus, this year there will be 20 flights a week. The number of weekly flights from Germany and the Scandinavian countries has increased to 50 and 30 respectively this year – more than in 2019.