25 December 2013 09:36

Nicosia has asked Moscow to give information on possible problems related to the implementation of the open-skies agreement between the two countries, said Communications Minister Tasos Mitsopoulos.
“We have asked the Russian government to inform us on possible particular problems with the implementation of the open-skies agreement so that we can mediate to ensure they are solved,” Mitsopoulos told The Cyprus Daily.
“With Russia being a big country and possible bureaucracy there we said that we should be informed if there are possible problems with the implementation of the agreement,” Mitsopoulos added.
From information, the Minister had during a recent meeting with the Cyprus Hotel Association (CHA), it appears that the agreement came at short notice and not in time for Russian tour operators from Moscow and Saint Petersburg to include Cyprus in their winter programme.
“There is however time to prepare for including Cyprus in tour operators programmes from next March or April,” Mitsopoulos said.
He said it is also up to the local tourism players and organisations like the CTO to ensure that the agreement is implemented.
Outgoing Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO) chairman Alecos Oroundiotis admitted that the anticipated number of tourists will not come from Moscow and Saint Petersburg this winter due to the complications in the implementation of the open-skies agreement.
“The CTO has done everything possible on its part with regards to cooperation with airlines for new routes or more frequent routes from existing Russian markets as well as with tour operators.
But some problems in implementing the open-skies agreement with Moscow mean we will not have the expected number of tourists this winter,” Oroundiotis said.
Hailing the open-skies deal with Moscow, Ayia Napa mayor Yiannis Karousos said the “liberalisation of flights from Moscow and Saint Petersburg is oxygen for the country’s economy.”
“The agreement was made at the right time for the crisis-hit economy, since everyone, including the President, admits that the economy can be supported by tourism.”
Karousos said that initially around 60,000 additional Russian tourists could visit Cyprus as a result of the agreement and the possibility of operating flights from Moscow and Saint Petersburg all year round and this number could gradually increase to 200,000.
The coastal resort’s mayor said that authorities and the CTO should ensure that all obstacles are overcome so that winter flights from the two Russian cities can start.
“The window of opportunity that exists today particularly due to geopolitical developments in neighbouring and competitive destinations should not be lost,” Karousos said.


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