Some tourists cancelling flights to Egypt amid fears an explosive loaded on board brought down a Russian plane are switching to Cyprus.
Russia and the United Kingdom have banned commercial flights to Egypt as the probe goes on, costing $275 million in monthly losses there and cries from the country’s officials it was premature.
The ban applies to Egypt’s Sharm el-Sheikh region but there are so many jitters about Egypt in general that the country’s tourism officials are anxious people will stop coming.
The President of the Association of Cyprus Travel Agents (ACTA), Dinos Kakkouras, told the Cyprus Weekly that 14 flights from Russia to Egypt have already been scheduled to be rerouted to Cyprus.
“There are nine flights from Russia and five from St. Petersburg, which is a pretty big number,” Kakkouras said.
Russia and Britain supply over half the number of tourists coming to Cyprus and more are likely to come, fearful of the tragedy’s aftermath and anxiety that Islamic State jihadists and sympathizers could go after more airliners.
The Cyprus Tourism Organisation has been promoting the island for some time.
Tourism Minister George Lakkotrypis told a House Finance Committee on Nov. 9 that there is interest from Russia, adding that the UK is also considering extra flights in February 2016.
But Kakkouras says a lot more needs to be done in order to attract more tourists all year round, especially during the winter season, while he also acknowledged that some things have been done right.
“A lot of efforts have already yielded some good results,” he told CW, such as setting up natural trails and wine routes. But more needs to be done in order to help Cyprus compete with other markets he said, especially those that offer similar products and services but at a fraction of the price.
He said that more flights could be scheduled in the coming months, but that tour operators generally wait for incentives before switching flights from Egypt to other countries, including Egypt.