The number of Greek-Cypriots crossing to the north almost tripled in 2019 in relation to last year, figures released by the justice ministry showed on Tuesday.
According to data revealed in parliament, 1,776,343 Greek Cypriots crossed to the north between January 1 and September 30, a 63 percent increase over the corresponding period of 2018 when only 658,741 Cypriots living in the south crossed.
A significant increase was also seen in vehicles owned or driven by Greek Cypriots crossing the line, with 928,221 over the same period compared to 309,374 in the first nine months of 2018.
An upsurge was also seen in 2018 in relation to the number of Greek Cypriots visiting the north. Following the fall of the Turkish lira at the beginning of 2018 to 7,88 to the euro, many Greek Cypriots crossed to the non-government-controlled areas for cheap shopping and to fill their vehicles with fuel.
The rise was observed by JCC based on the amount spent in the north by Greek Cypriots via credit or debit cards, which rose to €15 million last year from €491,000 in 2017.
The trend to purchase cheap fuel from the north led customs to warn of stricter checks in June 2018 and threatening to confiscate vehicles as well as issue fines to those who purchased fuel in the north.
At the same time, Turkish Cypriots visiting the south also showed an increase in the first nine months of this year with 970,510 visits this year compared to 791,103 last year, an 18.5 per cent increase. The number of Turkish Cypriot vehicles crossing during the same period also rose by 18.5 per cent, with 375,835 crossings compared to 308,420 in 2018.
Statistics did not include the number of people or vehicles crossing from the Pergamou and Strovilia checkpoints since they are monitored by the British bases.