Cyprus upbeat over Russian tourists

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Cyprus Tourism Minister Savvas Perdios has received optimistic messages over this year’s tourist flows from Russia, the island’s second-largest market.

Perdios is in Moscow for the second time in just a few weeks to meet Russian officials, following his contacts with air carriers and tour operators.

“There’s widespread optimism in the Russian market for trips abroad and especially for Cyprus.

“We have always been among the top preferences of the market but especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic,” Perdios told CNA.

Perdios has already briefed Russian tour operators and air carriers over Cyprus’ new entry protocol and incentive schemes approved by the European Union.

He also had contacts with the Russian Minister of Transport and the head of Russia’s Tourist Board.

He said tourist arrivals from Russia are already underway, with hoteliers reporting they never had Russian tourists in Cyprus this time of year.

Regarding his contacts with Russian officials, Perdios said he conveyed a request to recommend charter flights to Cyprus and the increase of scheduled flights from the country’s regional airports.

“These obstacles were in place last year; we asked the authorities to reconsider these two issues.”

Perdios said the Deputy Ministry briefed their interlocutors over Cyprus’ decision to accept the Sputnik and Sputnik light Covid vaccines and facilities offered to tourists such as free state quarantine if a tourist contracts Covid while in Cyprus.

He said the Russian authorities were positive over Cyprus’ decisions to facilitate tourism but did not get a reply to the requests he submitted as a specific committee handles the pandemic.

Apart from flights to and from Moscow and Saint Petersburg, Cyprus is connected with another 15 cities in Russia.

“We would like to take another step with more flights weekly from regional airports by each air carrier.

“If these requests are accepted, Russian tourists could increase over the approximately half a million arrivals last year.”

Perdios will visit Russia in June for the Economic Forum held in Saint Petersburg.

He is optimistic for a better tourist year as travel is normalising due to high vaccination rates more knowledge in handling the pandemic.

He noted that according to data, searches on Google for Cyprus have doubled or tripled compared with the same period last year.

“This shows the intention for travelling, and I believe that as we informed (tourist markets) on our new protocol and our incentives, we will do better than in 2021, based on the data we have today.”

But he noted the ministry would have a clearer picture in end-March as the tourist season approaches.

“It is a fact that demand is high not only for Cyprus but for travelling in general.”