MOSCOW, February 7. /TASS/. The number of Russians visiting the Republic of Cyprus in 2016 grew by 50% compared to the previous year, reaching a record high, Russian Ambassador to the Republic of Cyprus Stanislav Osadchy said in an interview with TASS.
"Last year was a year of records for the Cypriot tourism industry, which became possible largely due to a significant growth in the Russian tourist inflow," he said. "According to the official data provided by the Cypriot statistics agency, the number of our fellow citizens visiting Cyprus neared 800,000, which is more than any previous annual numbers and almost 50% more compared to 2015."
The Russian diplomat also said that although the significant increase in the number of Russian tourists was a result of flights to Egypt being suspended, however, the trend for the growing Russian tourist inflow to Cyprus had remained for the past few years.
Osadchy pointed out that Cypriots had been taking more and more interest in Russia due to increasing business cooperation, strengthening personal ties, religious and cultural closeness between the two peoples. "More Cypriots have been visiting our country as tourists," he added. "Even consular statistics prove that as around 6,000 visas were issued last year."
"I would like to emphasize that the Republic of Cyprus was recognized by the world community while the so-called Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) located in the northern part of the island is unrecognizes and is not controlled by Nicosia," the Russian diplomat said. "In other words, if our fellow citizens find themselves in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus it means they are outside the legal system of the Republic of Cyprus."
The ambassador pointed out that arrivals via the northern part of the island "are viewed by the Cypriot authorities as illegal and are actually a criminal offence." "This is why we strongly recommend our fellow citizens to arrive only through the airports and sea ports of the Republic of Cyprus," Osadchy said.
"Unfortunately, we often hear that some Russian nationals, either out of ignorance or on the off chance, attempt to cross the buffer zone so the Cypriot authorities arrest them. Often times it leads to deportation, but there have been some more complex incidents," the Russian ambassador added.
He stated that the Russian embassy’s consular department "provides assistance to Russian nationals no matter in what part of the island they are." "However, there are no consular centers in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, our possibilities are limited there," Osadchy said. "Embassies of other countries have been facing the same problem."
"For humanitarian reasons, as well as in order not to leave Russians permanently residing in the northern part of the island without assistance, our consulate officials receive Russian nationals in the buffer zone on a regular basis," the ambassador concluded.