NICOSIA – A ban on Russian airlines entering the European Union as part of sanctions over the invasion of Ukraine has cut deep into Cyprus’ tourism sector just as it was beginning to recover from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The losses are expected to be some 600 million euros ($613.83 million) is a key market for Russian visitors and ex-patriates and there are so many on the island that some billboards are in Russian.
In the record-busting year of 2019 – before the Coronavirus hit early in 2020 – there were some 3.9 million arrivals, including 780,000 from Russia but they can’t fly to the island directly and have to find other means to get there.
Panicos Michail, who works at Alion Beach Hotel in Agia Napa, told Euronews that it’s put a big dent in his clientele as “Russians and Ukrainians used to represent 25 to 30 percent of guests.”
He told the site that he’s trying to find travelers from other countries. “Our hotel always had a good reputation and caters to markets like Central Europe, such as Switzerland, Germany and Austria, and England.”
Christos Angelidis, President of the Pancyprian Association of Hotel Managers, said that “Nobody was prepared for this huge change, it’s a difficult problem to deal with but somehow we’re trying to cope with it. We have somewhat limited the damage but it’s impossible to replace this huge number of customers.”
Adding to their woes, hoteliers are facing prohibitive electricity costs as the invasion has set off ripples affecting energy as well and paying those bills is second only to wages for their workers.
Haris Loizides, President of the Cyprus Hotel Association said that many hotels have sent him examples of their bills, and some were being asked to pay between “100,000 to 150,000 euros ($102,310-$153,460) for only one month.”