Cyprus’ cooperation with Gulf Air opens up new prospects for attracting tourists from Bahrain, as well as from the larger Saudi Arabian market, Deputy Minister of Tourism, Savvas Perdios, told CNA, following his contacts in Bahrein.
Perdios was part of the delegation accompanying the President of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades, during his recent visit in Bahrain and stayed there to hold additional contacts with senior officials from Gulf Air, the Tourism Board and the country’s Investment Promotion Agency. Perdios also gave several interviews to local media, to promote Cyprus as a destination.
Speaking to CNA on the outcome of his contacts, Perdios referred to his meeting with the leadership of Gulf Air, during which he discussed the company’s aim to use Cyprus as a base to extend its flight schedule to Europe and other long-haul destinations, such as the United States.
The company is also mulling over itineraries that might interest or serve Cyprus’ goals, he noted.
“We wanted to assure them that our goals and strategies coincide” Perdios said, noting that the Deputy Ministry suggested, among others, France, Spain and Portugal as potential destinations for the company’s expansion.
He also said that before the pandemic, the Deputy Ministry started to explore the potential of attracting an airline from the Gulf, that will use Cyprus as a base for its flight schedule, establishing lang-haul or European destinations for which no direct connection exists now.
Asked about potential tourist flows from Bahrain, Perdios said that the country’s population is similar to that of Cyprus, but as people of an island nation, Bahrainis travel frequently.
During the meeting they examined the possibility of attracting high spending tourists from the country, while there are already direct flights to and from Cyprus.
The Deputy Minister noted moreover the prospects for tourists from neighbouring Saudi Arabia, as the city of Dammam, with a population of 1.5 mln is connected to Bahrain through a bridge and is only a 25-minute car ride away.
In this framework, he said, it was decided that the Deputy Ministry and Gulf Air promote jointly the Bahrain-Larnaca connection in Saudi Arabia. The process for Saudis to get a visa at the consulate of the Republic of Cyprus in Bahrain is relatively easy, Perdios noted.
“Therefore, we are opening our doors also to Saudi Arabia” he said and noted that the Bahrain-Larnaca connection is operating twice a week, but Gulf Air has the flexibility to add more flights if company plans go as planned.
The Deputy Ministry also asked the company to schedule its flights on Thursdays and Sundays, allowing Cypriots to travel there for a three-day weekend.
“We are seeing potential both with Bahrain and Saudi Arabia,” Perdios said, adding that there is the potential for additional Gulf Air itineraries to Europe and other destinations, through Cyprus.
The Deputy Minister said finally that he embarks on a number of visits in the next six months, including France, Scandinavian countries, Germany, Israel, UAE, Austria, Poland, Ukraine, Italy, the UK, Hungary, Slovenia, Saudi Arabia, Belgium, the Netherlands and Russia in his itinerary, aiming to promote the country and get in touch with tour operators and possibly with airliners.