New-look airline targets region in marketing blitz<!-- -->

Kyprianou ... stepping up the tempo.

Sun-kissed Cyprus is delivering a message to the world: We're one of the 'in' places to visit and even settle.

The Mediterranean paradise which last year attracted 2.7 million visitors, offers sunshine, a favourable exchange glorious heritage, stunning natural beauty and affordable property prices.

Cyprus is on a marketing blitz to take its message to the world, especially the nearby Middle East. Cyprus has long been a preferred destination for the region's nationals and Middle East-based expatriates.

And its national carrier, Cyprus Airways, is at the forefront of the image building campaign.

Major fleet expansion is taking place and new uniforms, in-flight entertainment and livery have just been introduced.

Cyprus Airways has stepped up promotions from the Gulf, particularly through its range of summer fares. These are in response to market demand, according to the airline. The fares are valid until October 31.

"We've released particularly affordable and competitive fares in response to market requirements," says Cyprus Airways Middle East and Gulf chief Stavros Kyprianou.

The airline is offering Dubai-Europe return economy class fares for Dh1,750 ($476).

Dubai-Larnaca-Dubai economy summer fares are Dh1,400 while the airline is offering return fares of Dh1,450 from Dubai to Cyprus Airways' Middle East destinations such as Cairo, Amman and Beirut.

The new season's Club Class offerings include Dubai-Europe return fares of Dh3,200, Dubai-Larnaca return for Dh2,000 and Dh2,200 for return flights from Dubai to Cairo, Amman and Beirut.

Bahrain-Europe return is BD175 and BD195 during the peak season. Bahrain-Larnaca return fares are BD120. Return fares to Amman, Beirut and Cairo are BD165. Club Class return fares to Europe are BD320 while Bahrain-Larnaca-Bahrain Club Class fares are BD200.

"Cyprus was the boom destination for Gulf expatriates and many nationals too, during the 1980s," says Kyprianou.

"We are definitely seeing a return to those days. I don't think there's ever been a better time to visit Cyprus."

Interest in Cyprus is set to heighten even more as Cyprus is also seen as a prime candidate for European Union membership, probably as early as 2004.

Cyprus Airways has taken delivery of a new 126-seater Airbus 319 and will have another shortly. The airline will also take delivery of two 295-seater Airbus A330s - one at the end of this year, the other at the start of 2003.

"These are exciting times for the airline and the country in general," says Kyprianou.