Cyprus to see return of Russian tourists in April

17/03/2021

Russian tourists are expected to be welcome in Cyprus as of April 1, according to sources close to the deputy ministry of tourism.

Phillip Orphanides contributed to this article.

 

Tourism operators have begun to take bookings on the expectation, as travel operators expect Russia to relax its own current restrictions to travel to Cyprus.

 

“We are booking on the basis of the expected relaxation of restrictions on Russian travel from both sides in April,” comments Vasilis Pavlou, the owner of the Larnaca-based Attica Holidays agency.

“There is a high level of interest from Russia for spring, and increasing bookings for April,” agrees Ivan Lavrov, the Managing Director of Russian tour operator Tez Tour Cyprus.

The Russian Federal Air Transport Agency issued permits this month to several airlines for Cyprus-bound flights.

Royal Flight airlines, based in Abakhan,  received permission for regular flights from Moscow to Larnaca  seven times a week. Pegas Fly, based in Krasnoyarsk (Ikar 2)  and  Khanty-Mansiysk-based UTair each have permission for seven flights a week.

Ural Airlines received permission to fly to Larnaca from Perm, Krasnoyarsk, Astrakhan, Minvod, Kaliningrad and Nizhny Novgorod – all 3 times per week. Aeroflot received permission to fly to Paphos from Moscow 7 times a week. Ural Airlines also expects to deliver tourists to Paphos from St. Petersburg 7 times per week.

Certainly tourist industry operators have high expectations that the dismal period is over. “It is everyone’s wish for Russian tourists to supplement the UK and Israel, and sooner rather than later,” comments Kratinos Socratous, director of Sales and Marketing, Parklane, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa in Limassol.

From April 1, Israeli tourists vaccinated with a vaccine approved by the European Medical Association (EMA) will not be required to undergo a PCR test to travel to Cyprus and will also be able to avoid quarantine on the island.

A similar deal could happen with Russia if and when Sputnik V gets cleared by Brussels – the EU is close to approving the Russian vaccine, and Cyprus has announced plans to order 50,000 doses. Hungary has already started using the Russian vaccine in February and others such as Germany or Austria have openly declared their intention to use it once approved.

Russians headed for ‘sun and beach’ destinations

 The number of Russian tourists has, in fact, doubled in the past decade, and the World Tourism Organisation data ranks outbound Russian tourist spending as seventh in the world with a 15 per cent increase between 2019 and 2020.

“Prior to Covid-19, a combination of destinations across Europe and Asia typically featured in the top ten international departures for Russians. Primary pull factors likely featured the lure of a ‘sun and beach getaway’ and ‘city break’ with opportunity for retail and cultural experiences – the most typically taken holidays for Russian tourists in 2019 according to GlobalData’s Q32019 consumer survey,” comments Johanna Bonhill-Smith, Travel and Tourism analyst at GlobalData in London.

“Turkey and Thailand, for example, were the top two destinations for Russian travelers in 2019, both renowned as idyllic ‘sun and beach’ destinations. The desire for a getaway of this type is only likely to have increased as international travel restrictions have barred opportunity for these holiday types in 2020 leading to pent-up demand. When Russian tourists first look to venture internationally, European sun and beach destinations are likely to be a popular focus for Russian tourists which could put Cyprus in a particularly good position,” she added.

As seen in global markets, domestic tourism is likely to be the first to recover with Russian travelers seeking to venture closer to home largely due to accessibility, affordability and general convenience, she noted. “Regional travel to nearby destinations across Asia and Europe are then likely to benefit; the recovery of long haul travel from Russia however is likely to take longer. Destination Marketing Organistions and companies should be focusing on promoting welcoming messages and incentives for international travel demand for when it is once more easily accessible.”

Flights to Greece already operating

Since February 8, Russia has resumed direct flights with this Greece on the Moscow – Athens route. Nevertheless, now there is a quota of 500 people per week for Russians, and a seven-day quarantine is mandatory for all foreign tourists.

The Greek National Tourism Organisation (EOT) is promoting Covid-free islands, where all of the inhabitants have been vaccinated. “I estimate that around 500,000 Russian tourists will visit Greece this year” said EOT Moscow office Polykarpos Efstathiou last week.

Source: Cyprus Mail