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Economy

No Russian Tourists Over EU Sanctions Costs Cyprus 600M Euros

NICOSIA – With its reliance on Russian tourists, Cyprus is perhaps the European Union country most hurting over sanctions for the invasion of Ukraine that bar Russian airlines from coming into the bloc.

Long a haven for Russian investors and the wealthy hiding – critics said laundering – their money in the island’s banks, Cyprus was reluctant about the sanctions shutting out Russian tourists.

It could cost as much as 600 million euros ($624.233) in losses, said the site Simpleflying, with nearly 14 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 22.8 billion ($23.8 billion) coming for foreign visitors.

Russians and Ukrainians make up nearly 20 percent of tourists, for the record year of 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020 and the sanctions are cutting into Cyprus’ hopes of a faster recovery.

The bar has affected affected many small businesses and travel agencies in Cyprus with Haris Loizides, Board President of the Cyprus Hotel Association, telling Euronews that, “There are hotels, especially in the Famagusta area, Ayia Napa and Protaras which are suffering mostly because they had the extensive contracts with tour operators from Russia. And they are facing huge difficulties at the moment.”

That has led to measures aimed at getting around the sanctions by having Russians come into Cyprus through circuitious routes through countries who aren’t backing the penalties, such as Serbia, Georgia and Israel, the report said.

Turkey – which has fruitlessly been trying to join the EU since 2005 – also refused to go along with the sanctions and is benefitting from being able to get Russian tourists by allowing Russian airlines.

Statista data said that that European countries expect three million fewer Russian arrivals in the upcoming months, based on the number of seats booked for inbound flights between February and August 2022.

But Cyprus’ Deputy Minister for Tourism, Savvas Perdios said he still expects more than 2 million tourists this year, with other countries, including the UK and Germany, making up some of the Russian losses.

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