Despite the pandemic process, tourism continues to be the locomotive sector of the TRNC.
Northern Travel Cyprus Winter Operation program begins with the initiatives of the TRNC Ministry of Tourism and Environment.
Tourism and Environment Minister Fikri Ataoğlu shared the details of the program with the public with a comprehensive statement.
Ataoğlu reminded us that the studies on the extension of the country’s tourism to 12 months have not been implemented for years and said, “The climatic conditions of our country were a great advantage for us in extending the tourism activities to 12 months. However, the tourism activities that spanned 12 months remained only in words. It has not been implemented so far. The country’s tourism was condemned to only a 3-month summer period. I am very excited to give the good news of this, because our country is now meeting with organisations that will host guests during a 12 month tourism period.”
Reminding that the winter operation was carried out only in Southern Cyprus between 2012 and 2014, Ataoğlu said, “The Northern Cyprus operation started in 2014 upon our request and Southern Cyprus was cancelled. In 2014, NTL’s Northern Cyprus winter operation started with 53,236 guests.”
Explaining that approximately 400,000 guests visited Northern Cyprus with NTL winter programs in 2014-2020, Ataoğlu also shared some previous figures…
A total of 399,265 guests, 41,581 in 2019, came to Northern Cyprus under winter tourism.
Fikri Ataoğlu stated that due to the pandemic, 43.419 of 85,000 reservations made in 2019-2020 were cancelled.
Pointing out that the NTL winter programs cater for guests over the age of 50 from 16 different European countries, Ataoğlu said, “Winter operations take place in September-October-November-December-January-February-March-April-May outside the high season. During this period, 36 hotels, mainly 3 and 4 star hotels, 80 buses, 50 guides and 25 restaurants are used.
Fikri Ataoğlu said, “The winter program includes 25 areas, cities and towns, in which all regions of the TRNC are visited, from the northernmost to the southernmost, from the westernmost to the easternmost. All open historical and cultural places of the country are included in the program. A total of 1300 km of visiting route is completed in seven days. Tourists then continue their 7-night hotel holiday.
In the light of the information given by Ataoğlu, who also shared the historical and cultural places visited by the groups;
• Salamis Ancient City
• St Barnabas
• Famagusta Castle
• Gazi Famagusta Inner City
• Lala Mustafa Pasha Mosque
• Selimiye Mosque
• Great Khan
• Nicosia Walled City
• Gamblers’ Inn
• Lokmacı Gate
• Kyrenia Castle
• Kyrenia Underwater Museum
• Kyrenia Bazaar and Ancient Yacht Harbor
• Bellapais Monastery
• St Hilarion Castle
• Ayios Aksfentios Church
• St. Andreas Monastery
• Karpaz Golden Beach
• Büyükkonuk Village
• Minia Cyprus
• Ruins of Soli
• St.Mamas Church
• Guzelyurt Archeology Museum
• Geçitköy Dam
• TRNC Folklore Night
• Mediterranean Village Jeep Safari and Nature event
In addition, in line with the request of the Ministry, all festivals organised in the country and suitable for the tour route are also visited.
Ataoğlu also conveyed the reflection of winter tourism on the sector, adding that, with regard to accommodation, 36 hotels with 3, 4 and 5 stars in the Girne, Alsancak, Lapta, Famagusta and Bafra regions operating in Northern Cyprus are working as half board and approximately 500,000 overnight stays are made per year.
Expressing that the operation continues with approximately 80 buses in the TRNC, Ataoğlu said, “Each group of buses travel 1300 km every week. Both buses and bus drivers are the TRNC people’s own assets. With the start of these operations, the significant increase in the number and standards of buses is an indication of its contribution to the market.”
Emphasising that around 50 Professional Tour guides approved by the Ministry of Tourism accompany all tours without exception, Ataoğlu also stated that professional tour guides from Turkey accompany our tours as group leaders.
Referring to the Ercan dimension of the issue, Ataoğlu said, “With the charter flights planned in the pre-pandemic period, 18 planes of European tourists per week, which is approximately 3200 guests every week, landed at Ercan Airport in the winter period and departed at the same rate every week. In addition to the usual passenger capacity, the contribution of these arrivals and departures to Ercan Airport is inevitable.”
Stating that the charter flights to the TRNC are carried out with Turkish companies, Ataoğlu explained the contribution of Winter Tourism to the regions and tradesmen as follows:
“The personal expenditures of the guests outside the hotel during their stay provide an economic contribution to the tradesmen and to the region. These expenses are for example;
• Expenditures at the stopovers,
• Expenditures made for eating, drinking and souvenirs during leisure time in cities,
• Spending on drinks at lunch and dinner,
• It can be summarised as the expenditures made on local products such as soap, Zivanya, Halloumi in places such as Büyükkonuk, Dipkarpaz, and Güzelyurt.
Fikri Ataoğlu added that the health cooperation with the Near East hospital, the walking tours organised during the Orchid season and thus the promotion of the Cyprus Fauna and Flora and the touristic expenditures made at the airport are additional to this scope.
Source (Turkish) Ministry of Tourism and Environment