By Andria Kades
RUSSIAN tourism is expected to drop in June despite it being considered the best month for attracting visitors from Russia, Association of Cyprus Travel Agents (ACTA) chairman Dinos Kakkouras said.
“June is a serious month which will show us what is happening with the Russian market and the prediction is that this month there will be a smaller influx of tourists compared to last year. It is the market that will affect us,” he added according to the Cyprus News Agency (CNA).
Kakkouras said that last year the majority of Russians who came to Cyprus had done so in June. Therefore the figures for this month would be the best indication on what the rate of reduction would be from Russia for 2015.
He said though a reduction from Russia was evident, there was an increase from the German and British markets and some other countries, such as Austria.
“We are unable to say whether the reduction from the Russian market will be balanced by the increase from the English and German markets,” he said. “We hope by the end of the month we will know. It will definitely be lower than the 25 per cent calculated.”
According to a Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO) assessment, seen by the Cyprus Mail, the expected fall in visitors from Russia of 25 per cent would in the end come in at 20 per cent or less.
“The picture has improved compared to the previous month,” the late-April assessment said.
Contributing to the improved prospects, it said, was the stabilisation of the rouble combined with incentives offered to Russian tour operators. The CTO predicts that 510,000 Russians will visit this year out of a total forecasted arrivals figure of 2.43m visitors. Closely linked with the Russian market is the Ukrainian one. Here, the CTO expects 53,000 arrivals, a hike of 30 per cent.
The developments are seen as positive given the challenges that were facing the industry vis a vis the Russian market at the beginning of the year.
“It should be considered a great success,” said the assessment. “As a destination we offer a comparative advantage when it comes to the Russian market in terms of distance, culture, language and expatriates.”
Visas were another issue under discussion. From last year’s 2.4m arrivals, some 770,000 needed visas to enter Cyprus with 26 per cent of those coming from Russia and 1.7 per cent from Ukraine
“The data suggests that 31.4 per cent of total inbound tourism largely depends on the visa procedures,” the assessment said. It added that for Russia and Ukraine, the system of electronic visas being used was operating well.
Kakkouras said indicators so far showed that some travel agents had seen a drop in Russian business while some remained the same. “We don’t know how this translates in the broader picture” Kakkouras said.
As far as Cypriots travelling abroad were concerned, Kakkouras said that by the end of 2014 there was an upwards trend which is still ongoing. Greece and its surrounding islands are by far the most popular destination followed by the UK, France, Italy and Austria.
“From our indications it seems that these trends will continue next summer too. There will be a small increase compared to last year’s figures.”