Finnair air carrier, that will launch direct flights between Larnaca and Helsinki, plans to bring to Cyprus this summer around 4,500 Finnish tourists, a company executive said on Monday while officials expressed hope that the new route will increase the numbers of travellers between Finland and Cyprus.
The company announced, in a press conference that took place at the residence of Finland’s Ambassador to Cyprus, in Nicosia, that it plans this summer to bring 4,500 travellers to Cyprus. This is what Managing Director of Finnair/ Aurinkomatkat, Timo Kousa, said through a video message.
The pandemic is finally losing its grip and the demand for travelling is very strong, he said. “We believe that this is the perfect timing to bring Cyprus and Finland closer to each other,” he added, expressing the wish for this partnership to be long lasting and fruitful for all parties.
In his address, Minister of Transport, Communications and Works, Yiannis Karousos, expressed his satisfaction for the restart of the connectivity between Finland and Cyprus. This year, he said, there will be five flights per week from Finland to Larnaca, and two of them will be from Finnair. He expressed the conviction that Finnair’s two weekly flights will increase.
“It’s a very important moment for both countries today, a moment that we have been waiting and which we all have put a lot of effort to make it happen,” he added. Karousos also said that there will be in August around 750 flights per week to and from Cyprus.
The Minister also said that in 2020 and 2021, Cyprus, despite the pandemic, managed to rank 6th in Europe as regards the lowest percentage of decrease in direct connectivity. In 2021, 62 airlines included Cyprus in their flight programmes connecting the country with 158 destinations in 40 countries worldwide, eight more destinations compared to 2019, he added.
Deputy Minister of Tourism, Savvas Perdios, said that Finland was an important source of visitors before the loss of the Finnish market for Cyprus. Finnair, he said, “has now chosen to fly direct to one of the most resilient -in my opinion- tourist destinations in Europe.”
“I say this because we proved it last year, in the middle of the pandemic, we almost reached 50% of 2019 arrivals,” Perdios said. Cyprus was one of the top countries in Europe to achieve this, he added, citing the Mediterranean average which was at 45% of 2019 arrivals, while the European average was at 37%, and the world average was only 27%.
“We have done so much work in the last three years in order to add more products to diversify what is available in Cyprus,” Perdios said. These include adding many exclusive gastronomy labels and nature-friendly labels, he said, adding that Cyprus needs to invest in more winter facilities in its hotels, such as Finnish saunas, wellness centres, indoor and outdoor heated pools, and steam baths.
He said they will soon launch an incentives scheme for hotels across the island through the EU Recovery Fund from COVID, for financial support to add these facilities.
Minister of Economic Affairs of Finland, Mika Lintilä, in his address, pointed out that the coronavirus pandemic and the war in Ukraine are putting enormous pressure on the European tourism industry. He also said that direct flights between Finland and Cyprus are necessary for both countries, for tourism and industry in general. The Minister also encouraged Cypriots to visit Finland and get to know its nature and culture.
Finland’s Ambassador to Cyprus, Harri Mäki-Reinikka, noted that the two countries may be considered geographically distant, but with direct flights, they will come even closer. In addition, he said, relations between the two countries would be strengthened and entrepreneurship and trade would recover.
He said Cyprus is a beautiful island, an ideal and attractive destination for Finns who appreciate not only the sun and the sea, but also gastronomy, wine, nature, sports venues and friendly people.
He also described Finland as an attractive tourist and cultural destination for Cypriots, especially during the warmer months of the year.
Replying to a question about the numbers of Cypriot visitors to Finland, the Ambassador said that the more people from Cyprus will be visiting Finland, the more from Finland will be visiting Cyprus. The number of Cypriot tourists in the past has not been as big as tourists from Finland. He expressed the conviction this would increase a lot.
Karousos, answering the same question, said that on estimation, there will be about 40,000 seats available, including arrivals and departures. He said, he believes the majority of passengers will be Finns travelling to Cyprus for holidays but that 20% to 25% will be Cypriot tourists.