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Cyprus : Cyprus tourism unaffected by airliner crash

The Cyprus Tourism Organization (CTO) said the initial figures for tourist arrivals seem to be unaffected since a Cypriot airliner crashed in Greece killing all 121 people on board. When news first broke of the crash, a terrorist attack was feared due to the as yet unexplained circumstances of the crash of the Helios Airways flight 522 into an Athens hillside Sunday.

CTO chairman Photis Photiou agreed that an act of terrorism being quickly ruled out was a key factor in not scaring tourists away.

"It seems there are no negative consequences," said Photiou. "We've studied the situation and looked at initial reports and statistics and it seems there has been no adverse affects."

Tourism revenue is crucial to the island's economy, contributing an average of 20 percent to GDP growth. The Cyprus economy is expected to grow by 5 percent in 2005, assisted by improved tourism figures.

The crash came at the peak of the holiday season when the island is abuzz with foreign tourists and, likewise, many Cypriots take their annual summer leave overseas, with Greece and the Greek islands popular destinations.

However, some Cypriots have gone on television and radio to voice their reluctance to travel with Helios Airways and said they are seeking alternative arrangements.

Local Sigma TV reported that around 100 Cypriots holidaying on the Greek island of Crete were Wednesday refusing to fly back with Helios.

"There is a psychological factor with people not wanting to fly on the same airline, this happens in all such incidents around the world," said Photiou of the CTO.

Helios says it is continuing to fly and trying to keep to its normal schedule with some minor delays. Ironically, there was an upsurge in tourists coming to the holiday island following the terrorist bombings in neighboring Egypt's Sharm al-Sheikh resort in July. Authorities said that more tourists were coming to Cyprus because it was viewed as a "safe" destination. More than 2.3 million tourists visited Cyprus last year and at least half of them were British.

Beirut,08 22 2005
Redaction
The Daily Star
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