Crossings north reach record heights

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Greek Cypriot crossings to the Turkish-occupied north have increased more than 20% in the first six months of 2023, reaching the highest level ever.

According to Turkish Cypriot media, a record number of Greek Cypriots crossing at the checkpoints to the north has eclipsed the number of arrivals at the Ercan (Tymbou) airport in importance.

According to Turkish Cypriot news outlet Diyalog, in the first six months, the number of people arriving on flights was 779,000, while from the checkpoints, the figure reached 2,428,000, “excluding citizens of the TRNC”.

Another outlet, Yeni Bakis, reported that traffic from the Republic increased by 21.54% during the first eight months of 2023 compared to the previous year.

The overall number of crossings by foreigners into the north was reported at 3,492,726, of which Greek Cypriots accounted for 2,043,555.

Quoting figures from the north’s tourism authority, Yeni Bakis added that the number of Turkish Cypriots crossings was recorded at 1,620,180.

It added that Brits and Greeks accounted for many of those crossing, while Romanians surpassed Bulgarian citizens.

Diyalog argued that Greek Cypriot crossings have become more beneficial for the north’s economy than tourist arrivals by air.

The outlet quoted shop owners in Arasta, an important shopping area of old Nicosia, linking into Ledra Street in the south of the city, saying that the increase in Greek Cypriots has boosted their business.

Business owners have urged the authorities on both sides to open more crossing points.

The number of Greek Cypriot crossings to the north is believed to have been boosted by motorists heading north to refuel as prices are 50 to 60 cents per litre lower than petrol stations in the Cyprus Republic.

Other consumer items are cheaper in the north due to a weak Turkish lira.