A group of 35 Israeli tourist were refused entry into Cyprus on Monday,when migration officials heard that they would be visiting the TRNC. The tourists contacted the Israeli Embassy in Nicosia, following diplomatic moves, the tourists were permitted entry at Larnaca. The remaining foreigners from Lebanon and Serbia were not so lucky and had to return home. However, after the debacle, the migration rule was suspended for 15 days.
Minister of Tourism Fikri Ataoglu, speaking on Turkish Cypriot private channel Diyalog TV, has said that the Greek Cypriot move to deny foreign visitors who wanted to cross the border to stay at certain hotels in the North, entry into Cyprus was because increasing numbers of Israeli tourists had chosen to visit the TRNC.
There had been a campaign in Israel to promote tourism in North Cyprus and it had been successful, the minister said. “This campaign went well. We started with 20 thousand tourists, then with 40 thousand and later we were talking about 70 thousand. I assumed that the Greek Cypriots would not take it well. After the hotels in the South started to empty, those who are involved in the tourism sector started to react against this situation”, said Ataoglu.
The tourism minister added that in order to overcome the problem, the Israeli Embassy in Cyprus was also involved and that his ministry is trying to see how they can solve the problem together.
Deputy chairman of the Turkish Cypriot Hotel Sssociation Ercan Turhan, criticised the Greek Cypriot’s stance on this issue and stressed that they will continue their efforts to bring more tourists into the country. He further noted that a huge duty falls upon the Turkish airlines, and proposed that Turkey and the TRNC authorities join forces in order to act so there is pressure by Israel on the Greek Cypriots to withdraw this migration rule.