Limassol, Cyprus (PortSEurope) July 10, 2019 – Deputy Minister for Shipping Natasa Pilides has said that the Cypriot government is considering reviving ferry links with neighbouring countries, saying that the feasibility for the project has been completed, but requires a state subsidy decision. The Ministry will submit an application for funding to the European Commission.
Cyprus will have a ferry link, initially with Greece and later with other countries, such as Egypt, Israel and Lebanon, for the first time in decades.
A ferry link with Greece could start by next summer. Starting in Limassol, a final destination of Greece is yet to be determined. A ferry link with Piraeus ended over 40 years’ ago when travellers preferred a short air flight to visit Athens.
Recently, air ticket prices have increased due to a lack of capacity following the collapse of Cobalt Airlines. The airline operated its maiden flight on 1 June 2016 from Larnaca to Athens, but ceased all operations on 17 October 2018 after facing financial difficulties.
Travel by ferry could be popular as travellers could take their cars along without any paper work or bureaucracy involved, as Cyprus and Greece are EU member states.
Pilides said that after the government makes a decision to subsidize the connection, but not the commercial aspects of the link, a tender completion will be announced, with a view of starting the 30-hour trips to Greece before next summer.
Pilides said the ferry fare will be cheaper than the airfare and could include an intermediate stop, such as Rhodes.
At a parliamentary committee on Energy, Commerce, Industry and Tourism, House President Demetris Syllouris told the parliamentary committee that Egypt has expressed interest in a ferry connection between Cyprus and Alexandria. Deputy Minister for Tourism, Savvas Perdios, said that the ferry connection with Greece was very important and that there was room for links with Israel, Lebanon and Egypt.
He said the ferry link could be a way to counter a drop in tourist arrivals, mostly because of Brexit uncertainty. He said arrivals were down by 1%, with more losses probably on the way as a result of increasing competition from Turkey, mostly in relation to tourists from Russia.
He said tourism revenues could drop by 5% this year.
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