Cyprus to Open a Consulate General
Published: December 16, 2003 (Issue # 928)
A St. Petersburg Cyprus Consulate General was officially accredited on Wednesday in preparation for the Jan. 1 introduction of visas for Russians wanting to visit the republic, the Greek part of a divided Mediterranean island.
"Cyprus will now require a visa from Russian travelers because Cyprus is to join the European Union on May 1," Consul General Demetris Samuel said Monday.
"We ourselves didn't want to introduce visa requirements for Russia, but such is the rule of the EU," Samuel said.
Cyprus, which is a very popular destination for Russian tourists and businessmen, has given Russians visa-free entry to date. About 140,000 Russians make the trip to the balmy and investment-friendly island each year.
Samuel said Russians make up a large part of tourist flow to the republic, and bring significant profit to the country.
Samuel said it plans to keep the cost of visas under $20, and to issue them in less than 24 hours. "We want to have people applying for a visa in the morning, and getting it in the afternoon," he said.
Samuel said Cyprus had been worried that introducing visas would cost Cyprus a few Russian tourists at the start, but it is expected that any losses will be compensated for through a short and convenient visa procedure.
Yekaterina Kudryavtseva, head of the overseas department of St. Petersburg's Fremad Russia travel company, which organizes trips to Cyprus, said her firm doesn't expect any significant decrease in Russian tourists traveling to Cyprus.
"It will, of course, depend on how well visa arrangements work at the new consulate," Kudryavtseva said. "If it's quick and not very expensive then it won't influence the tourist flow."
Samuel said the Russian government had been "very understanding" about the new visa requirements.
Russia will also introduce visa requirements for Cypriots, who until now had not needed visas.
Samuel said the consulate general will operate from temporary rented premises until a permanent office opens in the spring.