The national airline of Cyprus, Cyprus Airways, has dropped its previous EUR35 charge for carrying sports equipment under on flights. Following the change, any sports equipment under 15kg will be carried free of charge.
The move was welcomed by Cypriot Tourism organisations, and was hailed as a means to boost sports tourism in the region. One of the main beneficiaries of the change may be the golfing industry in Cyprus. Many tourists travel to the country on a golfing excursion already, and with the reduced costs of such a holiday, the numbers can only go up.
The routes affected by the fee removal are flights to and from Paphos and Larnaca International airport from London, Manchester, Frankfurt, Munich, Paris, Milan, and Rome.
Cyprus has been steadily growing into one of the most popular golfing destinations in Europe. The climate and quality of golf courses has made for a very attractive prospect for golfing aficionados.
With flight prices from London to Paphos ranging from around £50 to £125 in May with Cyprus Airways, the EUR35 (approximately £30) is a relatively considerable discount.
The Cypriot government is the majoritative shareholder in the airline, with just under 70% of the shares. This has been the case since 2006, when the airline faced serious financial problems. As such, it makes sense for the owners to do all they can to promote increased tourism levels to the country, thus theoretically providing a boost to the economy, as well as helping to improve the profitability of the company.
Apart from the benefits felt within the golfing communities, other sports such as football and hockey could also benefit from the fee drop. Due to its attractive climate, Cyprus often finds itself as a Summer training base for Northern and central European football teams. As such, the absence of an equipment charge would appeal to teams looking to travel to the area, often with a load of training equipment.
Hockey is also a popular sport in Cyprus, with the Cyprus Hockey Association responsible for the organisation of all the major tournaments in the country. For any players overseas, travelling to Cyprus with hockey equipment would previously have incurred the EUR35 charge, and so the recent development will no doubt be welcomed by such travelling hockey players.
Despite the other possible beneficiaries of the change, it does seem that Cyprus golf courses will be the main institutions affected in this case. With golf tourism a real moneymaker in the region, this must have been the main focus of the decision to drop the charge.