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We are concerned about the incidents of violence, says Kostas Koumis – Free vacations for tourists-victims of the attack in Limassol

ΕπιθΕσεις ρατσισμο με τουριστικς προεκτασεις /></p>
<p> More than 300 thousand tourists from Eastern Mediterranean and Middle Eastern markets arrived in Cyprus this year between January and July. </p>
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By Maria Herakleous

Two months ago a delegation of the Ministry of Tourism, led by the Deputy Minister, visited the United Arab Emirates. The aim was to investigate the tourism prospects of the specific geographic market and to strengthen the relations of cooperation, with the ultimate goal of increasing tourist flows from the region. It is something that has been emphasized repeatedly that the Middle East market has a strong growth perspective for Cyprus tourism. Mainly, after the operation of the City of Dreams Mediterranean casino in Limassol, which is considered to be a product that can attract larger numbers of tourists from the specific markets.
However, the events that unfolded in the past few days in Limassol with the attack against tourists of Arab origin, which constitute a black page not only for Cypriot society, may tarnish the perspective, the situation and the good image that Cyprus transmits abroad. Factors from the tourism world of Cyprus speak of unacceptable phenomena which insult our country as a tourist destination, discredit it abroad and destroy the reputation of our country as a welcoming tourist destination – a reputation which all agencies collectively try to maintain and to strengthen. Therefore, it is emphasized that the state should be relentless against such phenomena.

The position of the deputy ministry

Regarding the incident in Limassol and its ramifications for tourism and the effort being made to open up the markets of the Middle East, the responsible Deputy Minister Kostas Koumis spoke to “K”, who expressed his concern about the culture and the escalation of violence that exists here and years in Cyprus, as he mentioned. “It's not so much related to immigration, but it's more of an escalation of violence that we see expressed in various forms”, as he estimates. What he wanted to emphasize is that Cyprus remains a safe destination. The question, of course, in this case is the image formed abroad. The deputy minister stated that he himself did not receive any concern during his contacts with Arab markets. “We have been investigating the matter since we found out that it is a tourist, we have spoken to the ambassador of that country. The intention of the Deputy Ministry of Tourism, as he said, is to offer the person in question to enjoy his holidays again in Cyprus with his company. “We will invite them to Cyprus and host them.” He emphasized, however, that Cyprus is and remains a safe destination and that these incidents are isolated. The incident in question came to light after a post by the Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kyriakos Kouros, on social media, who stated that he had received a letter from the ambassador of an Arab country, since a number of its citizens, innocent visitors to our country, were among the victims of the incidents in Limassol, one of them quite seriously. After the incident, the group of tourists interrupted their vacation and hurriedly left Cyprus. In addition to this specific incident, in the last few hours Cyprus has been appearing in foreign media for the complaint of a tourist from Britain for gang rape by a group of Israeli tourists, with the incident being investigated.

Such incidents offend the our country, they discredit it abroad and destroy the reputation of our country as a welcoming tourist destination, say tourism operators.

Over 300 thousand

It is known that these are markets in which Cyprus is attempting to open up while, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, this year's arrivals are already higher than last year. Let's look at the arrival numbers from the Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean markets (Lebanon, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Armenia, etc.). According to the Statistical Service, tourist arrivals from these markets in the period January-July 2023 amounted to 329 thousand. The highest numbers are recorded by Israel with arrivals amounting to 236 thousand. The Lebanese market follows with 23 thousand visitors and 13,338 arrivals from the United Arab Emirates. According to the Deputy Minister of Tourism, the numbers from these markets have significantly increased compared to previous years. Certainly, however, the positive course of arrivals may change in the event that Cyprus is no longer considered a safe destination.

Source: www.kathimerini.com.cy

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