After exhaustive efforts to come to an agreement on the liberalisation of flights to Cyprus from Russia during the winter season, a critical agreement is set to be finalised and signed today at the Ministry of Communications.
The development, which expands potential growth for the tourist industry of the island, and will especially benefit tourism in towns in Famagusta will be able to reduce seasonality and unemployment with an open skies agreement.
Communications and Works Minister Tasos Mitsopoulos confirmed on Friday that on the day he “received a letter from the Minister of Transport of the Russian Federation, who in reply to our letter of July 31, 2013 informs us that the Russian side accepts the request for full liberalisation of charter flights to Cyprus throughout the winter season.”
The minister added that "the liberalisation of flights could occur from Moscow and St Petersburg, taken over by two airlines instead just one airline company. With the liberalisation of flights, we can tackle the problem of seasonality, by bringing in more tourists and keep hotels open for longer.”
The agreement of the Ministry of Communications with the equivalent Russian Ministry refers to a given number (most probably two) scheduled flights to and from Russia and an unlimited number of charter flights.
Press reports mention that a large tour operator in Russia intends to transfer tens of thousands of Russian tourists to Cyprus in winter, which will boost both the tourism industry and the Cypriot economy in general.
Mitsopoulos clarified that once the amendments of the Memorandum of Co-operation that Cyprus has with Russia are carried out today, the agreement will come into immediate effect.
Ayia Napa Mayor, Yiannis Karousos, also expressed his satisfaction over the development, and speaking on behalf of Paralimni Mayor, Theodoros Pyrilli, Karaousos said: “we are fully satisfied with the implementation of the liberalisation of flights from the Russian Federation”.
He added: "this agreement will benefit the free Famagusta area and it is expected that around 300,000 tourists from Moscow, St. Petersburg and other regions of the Russian Federation will visit the region during the winter season”.
Hoteliers also expressed their appreciation for the positive development. "It was something we were looking for for years and is now becoming a reality. The efforts of the Minister of Communications were substantial to reach a positive outcome to the discussions," said a represntative of a large chain hotels in Cyprus.