Academic journal article European Journal of Tourism Research

Cyprus Settlement: A Zero Sum Game for Tourism?

Academic journal article European Journal of Tourism Research

Cyprus Settlement: A Zero Sum Game for Tourism?

Article excerpt

Introduction

Cyprus has been politically divided for several decades and successive generations have now grown up in a country that is politically separated into two distinct political units. In this research, we explore empirical evidence of how a political solution to the division would likely impact upon the tourism industry. To learn more about this, surveys and interviews were undertaken to ascertain information on how people in the tourism industry on both sides of the ethnic divide view the effects of the political division of the island on tourism and tourism development.

To begin, it is necessary to give some background to the Cyprus conflict. The country became the independent Republic of Cyprus in 1960, after having been under British rule for most of the previous century. This did not solve the ethnic friction that had been an ongoing feature of Cyprus society. Violence ensued resulting in many deaths between the major ethnic groups on the island, the Greek Cypriots (a Greek-speaking Orthodox Christian population) and the Turkish Cypriots (a Turkish-speaking Muslim population). The Greek Cypriot population on the island at the time of independence accounted for about 77 per cent of the population of the island, while the Turkish Cypriot population accounted for about 18 per cent of the population, according to the census (Republic of Cyprus, 1961).

In 1974 there was a coup orchestrated from Athens and Turkey invaded part of the Republic of Cyprus from the North, ostensibly to protect the Turkish Cypriot minority from ethnic cleansing. As a result, the island is divided today, as the northern sections of the island had been incorporated into the "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus," which accounts for about a third of the area of the island of Cyprus and has a government that lacks international recognition from all the countries in the world, with the exception of Turkey (CIA, 2015). The Republic of Cyprus, predominantly populated with Greek Cypriots, occupies most of the rest of the island; some areas are administered by the UN and others by British forces. All efforts to unify the country into one political entity have failed and the two major political entities on the island remain separated by a UN-administered buffer zone, with the line separating the two major political units referred to as the "Green Line."

Both economies on the island of Cyprus have relied heavily on tourism, as the climate and seaside make tourism development an obvious option for economic development. To illustrate the importance of tourism to the economy, in 2014 there were a reported 2441000 tourism arrivals to the Republic of Cyprus; with 858000 people living there, there are nearly three arrivals per capita, which is very high relative to most other countries. The "total contribution of Travel & Tourism" in Cyprus in 2014 is estimated by the World Travel and Tourism Council to be 24% of GDP (World Travel and Tourism Council, 2014). There are no reliable data for the "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus," but the small population size and significant flights from mainland Turkey suggest that tourism is a major part of the economy on that part of the island, too.

The tourist industries in the two parts of the island have been influenced by the political and cultural differences between Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots and both populations live under very different political and economic circumstances. While the Republic of Cyprus is in the European Union, uses the euro as its currency, and is a recognized state, the Turkish Cypriot population lives under very different circumstances, with a political system and economy more closely linked with Turkey. The political anomaly that exists is that while most Turkish Cypriots live in a political system that is not recognized as a part of the European Union, they live in a geographical location that is nevertheless identified as being a part of the EU. There is a noteworthy development gap between the two entities on the island with the Turkish Cypriots being significantly less affluent than Greek Cypriots (Ayres, 2003). …

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