For the first time since the checkpoints opened in April 2003, the number of crossings by Greek Cypriots in 2019 surpassed those of Turkish Cypriots, according to forecasts.
A survey by Politis newspaper using police statistics showed that so far this year there were 1.9m crossings excluding those at Pergamos and Strovilia which are run by the British bases – from the Greek Cypriot side until the end of May compared with 1.2m crossings from the north.
There are six other crossing points spread across the 180km long buffer zone that divides the island.
In the month of May there were 182,843 crossings by Greek Cypriots at the six crossings compared with only 64,523 in the same month last year. The number of Turkish Cypriot crossings rose from 87,648 in May 2018 to 103,500 in the same month this year.
April this year also showed huge strides in crossings from the south of the island. During that month in 2018, they numbered only 63,072 compared with 205,402 in April 2019, more than three times the number.
When the checkpoints opened in April 2003 there were 1.12m crossings from the south of the island that month compared with 1.37m from the north.
Since then, Turkish Cypriots have consistently shown a bigger number of crossings, peaking at 2.2m in 2005 but remaining steady around 800,000 to 900,000 since.
The lowest number of crossings from both sides occurred in 2012 when there were only 481,000 from south to north, and 850,000 from north to south.
The movement of vehicles also showed a similar pattern. In 2015 some 177,654 vehicles passed through Greek Cypriot checkpoints heading north compared with 419,288 so far this year.
Turkish Cypriots crossing in cars numbered 196,228 in the first five months of 2019, putting them on track to maintain previous numbers for the whole year of between 300,000 and 400,000 crossings by vehicles.
The biggest factor cited for the huge influx from south to north was the devaluation of the Turkish lira, which prompted thousands of Greek Cypriots to cross in search of cheaper fuel, medicines and groceries over 2018 and 2019. Fuel is reportedly 40 cents cheaper per litre in the north.
According to Politis, the numbers are also reflected in credit-card spending.
While in 2017 Greek Cypriots spent some €9.4m in the north, in 2018 this figure, according to JCC data, rose to €15m. In January to May this year the figure has already reached €7.76m.
In 2017 Turkish Cypriots spent almost €26m in the south of the island but since the fall of the lira, their spending has dropped, reaching only €6.5m in the first five months.