Cyprus Mail

Tourism officials stay mum on potential effects of virus on tourism

The deputy ministry of tourism is yet to release any comment on how the industry might be affected by the coronavirus (Covid-19) in the next months.

“This might obviously change in the next few days but, for now, we cannot say anything,” a source close to Deputy Tourism Minister Savvas Perdios said on Wednesday.

The tourism industry all over the world is bracing for a massive blow in the next months following the outbreak and the consequent spread of the virus.

Many countries have advised their nationals to limit their travels and hoteliers everywhere have reported a wave of cancellations, putting local tourism industries at threat.

The latest country to be affected is Greece, which on Wednesday confirmed its first coronavirus case, a 38-year-old Greek woman who had travelled from an area of northern Italy.

Greece is hugely important for the Cypriot economy and a key element for the country’s tourism industry, a fact that might affect the flow of tourism heading to and coming from Greece in the next months.

Specific directives from Perdios, however, are currently imposing a no-comment on all virus-related queries.

Claiming the silence on the matter is a measure to prevent panic from spreading, the ministry is saying that “at the moment we are not in the position of releasing any statements on how out industry might be affected”.

Italy, the third most affected country in the world, is facing a rising likelihood of an economic recession in the first quarter of this year and its tourism industry is particularly vulnerable to the shutdowns resulting from the coronavirus outbreak.

Travel bans, shutdowns and a general sense of fear are resulting into a growing number of people cancelling their journeys.

France Finance Minister said on Monday his country has seen a 40 per cent fall in tourists following the outbreak, Vietnam has banned tourists from coronavirus-hit areas of South Korea and budget airlines EasyJet and Ryanair dropped between 13 and 16 per cent as they were forced to reassess the fallout from the rapid spread of the COVID-19.

Meanwhile, the foreign ministry’s director for Schengen, consular affairs and crisis management Demetris Hadjiargyrou said “there is no reason for Cypriots residing or traveling abroad to panic over the spread of the coronavirus.”

On February 24 the ministry issued a travel advisory, urging Cypriots to avoid non-essential travel to Italy’s Lombardy and Veneto regions, as well as to South Korea’s Gyeongsang District.

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