Past the glowing Mediterranean waters within the Cypriot resort city of Ayia Napa, bars are internet hosting foamy dance events as vacationer numbers bounce again after two robust years of the pandemic.
However one key nationality is successfully lacking: guests from Russia, because the as soon as profitable market has been hit by European Union sanctions following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
“This yr we anticipated 800,000 Russian vacationers,” mentioned Haris Loizides, head of the Cyprus Resort Affiliation.
The Russian market “was razed to the bottom in sooner or later,” mentioned Christos Angelides, head of the Pan-Cyprus Affiliation of Resort Managers. “Nobody was prepared for these big modifications.”
The important thing tourism sector, which generated €2.68 billion ($2.72 billion) in 2019, or 15% of the nation’s GDP, remains to be counting the price of Covid-19’s catastrophic years of tourism chaos.
In 2019, earlier than the beginning of the pandemic, a fifth of the vacationers had been Russians – 782,000 out of three.9 million, making the island the second largest vacation market after the UK.
Final yr, regardless of tight coronavirus journey restrictions, that proportion rose to over 25%, with virtually 520,000 arrivals from Russia out of a complete of 1.93 million.
Operators hoped that this summer time Russian numbers would return to pre-pandemic ranges.
Flight bans, banking sanctions
About 18,000 Russians dwell in Cyprus, a lot of whom dwell within the seaside metropolis of Limassol, which some name “Moscow on the Mediterranean”.
However as EU sanctions on Russia proceed and bloodshed continues on the battlefields in Ukraine, solely 17,000 Russian vacationers got here to Cyprus between January and June.
“Our resort is doing effectively, however others that had 100% Russian clientele are doing worse,” mentioned Angelidis, who can be the supervisor of the Napa Mermaid resort.
Nicosia and Moscow closed political and cultural ties, however when Russia moved troops into Ukraine, the Cypriot parliament unanimously handed a decision condemning the invasion.
Cyprus, the easternmost member of the EU, has backed the bloc’s actions towards Moscow, together with a flight ban and sanctions barring some Russian banks from accessing the Swift monetary system.
The tourism ministry says fewer guests from Russia may imply about $600 million in potential misplaced income.
On the whole, the variety of vacationers arriving in Cyprus is recovering on account of sturdy demand in different key markets after the lifting of restrictions associated to the coronavirus.
From January to June, 1.2 million guests had been recorded in Cyprus, virtually 5 instances greater than final yr, and Ayia Napa’s white sand seashores are crowded with sun-seekers and party-goers.
However that is nonetheless 25% lower than in the identical interval in 2019, when 1.63 million vacationers got here to Cyprus.
“We have now considerably restricted the harm, however it’s unattainable to exchange such an enormous variety of prospects,” Angelidis added.
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