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The Cyprus News Agency and the Financial Mirror both reported this week on a new tourism initiative between Cyprus and Russia.

Antonis Paschalides, the Cypriot Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism has been in Moscow this week for the 4th International Tourist Exhibition, known as “Intourmarket 2009”, organised by the Russian government.  The President of the Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO) and officials, accompanied Mr. Paschalides to Moscow, where he met his Russian counterpart to discuss the setting up of a working group on tourism, in a bid to boost tourist flows between the two countries amid the global financial crisis.

In a press release, the Russian Minister of Tourism referred to increased efforts of the two governments to encourage tourism between Cyprus and Russia and said he was happy with the levels of services which Cyprus offers Russian visitors. Paschalides responded in a similarly positive vein, saying that entry procedures for Russian citizens visiting Cyprus have been simplified so that Russian nationals can obtain a visa within 24 hours.

The meeting this weekend is just one part of the Cypriot government’s urgent plans to boost tourism by looking at new markets and capitalising on traditional ones. At a conference in February, Mr. Paschalides announced that the government had approved increased budgets to the CTO of €4.5 million in 2008 and a massive €12 million in 2009, which will be used mainly for additional advertising and promotion. The focus of the new marketing initiatives will be on new tourism markets in countries like Russia, but also the Scandinavian and Arab countries. The CTO is also working hard to retain important traditional markets such as those of the UK and Germany and the government is promoting an Open Skies policy so that Cyprus is more accessible to countries which are not members of the EU, such as Russia, the Ukraine and a range of Arab countries.

The government and the CTO are hoping to attract a whole range of new visitors and make sure that tourists make plenty of return visits. Cyprus has been a perennially popular tourist spot, particularly with visitors from the UK, but according to the Cyprus Statistical Service, tourist arrivals and revenue from tourism have been falling sharply in recent months, hence the government’s determined moves to address the problem.

Author: Anne Hall

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