Deputy Shipping Minister Vassilis Demetriades believes establishing a Cyprus-Greece ferry link next May is achievable with tenders to be launched in October to offer a service priced €50 one-way.
“The May deadline is attainable since with the launching of tenders we aim to provide a period of 2 to 2.5 months for candidates to study the proposals,” Demetriades told MPs on Tuesday.
He said terms of the contract will stipulate that the ferry link commences in early May, ahead of the summer season.
Speaking before the House Committee on Energy, Commerce and Tourism, Demetriades said that several issues are still under discussion with the Greek authorities and the port of Piraeus.
This involves arrivals from a non-Schengen destination (Cyprus) and issues related to the passenger terminal and customs.
“We are at the final stages of concluding the terms of the offer and the goal is to launch the tender within October.”
The minister said there is interest from operators in Cyprus, Greece, and other European countries.
State aid which has been preauthorized by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for subsidising passenger fees for three years.
“This gives enough time to determine whether the ferry link is viable.”
Demetriades said tender applicants will be able to choose between Larnaca and Limassol port as the point of departure and also determine the stopover location.
There is a ceiling, limiting the fare to €50 for one-way tickets and €80 return.
Shipping strategy 2040
He also hopes the ferry link will help Cypriots embrace shipping, which contributes 7% of the country’s GDP and employs at least 9,000 people working in shipping companies and 50,000 seafarers.
The Shipping Ministry aims to draft a strategy on the sector’s future in the next 20 years, the goals, the vision and setting specific targets.
The strategy will not be limited to traditional shipping activities, such as ship ownership and ship management, but will cover the broader maritime area and a comprehensive state maritime policy.
Demetriades revealed that there are thoughts to expand the Deputy Ministry’s jurisdiction to other areas, such as marinas.
The deputy ministry is also focused on increasing ship registrations and the presence of shipping companies on the island while updating its shipping product and ways of making it more attractive.
“Therefore you will soon hear announcements, offering environmental incentives for newly built or energy-efficient ships while attracting yachts to the Cyprus shipping register.”
Demetriades said the impact of the pandemic on shipping will become more obvious in the next few months.
Replying to questions by MPs, he said that cruise ship travel has been hardest hit and it is not expected to recover in 2021.
Commercial shipping was less affected, but the COVID impact will become apparent in the next few months, he said.