By Peter Stevenson
SOME 37,000 Russian tourists are expected to arrive in Cyprus over the coming months following the decision by Russian budget airline Transaero to carry out daily flights to Paphos.
The daily flights began on Thursday and will continue until October 26 according to the head of the Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO) Alecos Oroundiotis. He said that by promoting an open skies policy, Cyprus would be able to further develop and enhance winter tourism to the island.
“An open skies policy is an international agreement where two or more nations agree to allow unrestricted flight and landing rights to one another. It is an international agreement. It helps build friendship and trust between countries and will help the tourist industry in Cyprus,” he explained.
Oroundiotis said that Transaero will be carrying out flights on a daily basis from destinations in Russia to Paphos, expected to bring in 37,000 tourists in the next two months.
“It is a large number, and people are travelling from a number of places to come to Cyprus currently,” he said.
Oroundiotis added that the CTO was in constant contact with travel agents in England, Germany and Russia and that there was plenty of interest from people who want to holiday in Cyprus.
He expressed the hope that by the end of the year tourism would pick up. He said earlier this week that numbers were down 6.6 per cent between January and July compared to the same months last year.
“We will be able to reclaim the lost ground following the events in March and April regarding the economy,” he said.
He added that the CTO has prepared a report on winter tourism and in September a special one-day tourism workshop will take place to help improve services in the industry.
“All the relevant ministries will take part along with trade unions, the hoteliers association and everyone else who has anything to do with tourism where suggestions will be made on how best to deal and improve tourism,” he said.
The head of the CTO said he believes that liberalising flights was necessary if tourism was to pick up.
Oroundiotis said that he hoped a deal could be struck so flights from Moscow, St. Petersburg and Tel-Aviv would be liberalised even after restrictions come into play in October when the winter season technically starts.
He explained that problems at Cyprus Airways have meant that certain flights to Russia, Israel and the Middle-east have been dropped, meaning that Cyprus is losing out on certain markets, something which he feels needs to be resolved by liberalising flights.