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Economy

Ukraine Invasion Fears Makes Cyprus Worry Russian Tourist Ban

February 23, 2022

NICOSIA – Russian visitors are a major tourism market for Cyprus – where many wealthy Russians hide their wealth in banks – but worries that Russia will launch a full-scale invasion of Ukraine has Cypriot officials anxious that possible sanctions will keep them out.

Deputy Minister for Tourism Savvas Perdios has reportedly assured the tourism industry that the government is devising a contingency plan but admitted the financial consequences could be big.

in the event of a flare-up in Ukraine and possible sanctions on Russia,

“The tourism sector would surely suffer, but also the economy in general,” his ministry said. “It will all depend what sanctions would be imposed on Russia and how long the sanctions would last,” it added, said The Cyprus Mail.

Filokypros Rousounides, head of the hoteliers association, told the Stockwatch news outlet that the group “has an open line” with Perdios who assured them there’s a back-up plan but no details what it was.

Rousounides said the industry is following what’s happening in Ukraine but said it’s too early to be overly fretful despite a Russian incursion already and signs it could become all-out.

“It’s premature to speak of a freezing of bookings, bookings are low right now, and we expect them to rise beginning of next month, assuming the crisis defuses,” he said as Russian tourists like to book in groups for the summer.

The Association of Cyprus Tourist Enterprises (STEK) said it’s too early to make any assessments about bookings from Russia but that its’ leadership is also working with the ministry.

Russia is Cyprus’ second-largest market for tourism and has a sizeable number of expatriates and Russians with second or summer homes and Cyprus, as a member of the European Union, would be obliged to adopt any sanctions put on Russia.

The Russians were the saviors when the COVID-19 pandemic broke out in 2020 – those allowed to come during restrictions – and returned in greater number in 2021, with the tourism sector hoping for a big bounceback now.

In 2021, Russians accounted for 40 percent of all tourist arrivals, the paper said, noting that businesses in Ayia Napa and Protaras would have collapsed without them.

The head of the Famagusta branch of the hoteliers association Doros Takkas said a crisis in Ukraine would not only impact prospective Russian tourists, but also Ukrainians, some 80,000 of whom came in 2021, with expectations it could soon reach as many as 300,000 annually.

Data from the Statistical Service showed that in 2019 there were 782,000 Russian tourists out of a total of some 3.9 million who came before the Coronavirus crisis struck the world.

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