Perhaps it is inexperience that led the deputy minister for tourism Savvas Perdios to declare that on no account was this year lost for the tourism industry. This sounded more like an expression of wishful thinking rather than a forecast based on reliable data and rational assumptions.
Perdios claimed that the figures that until now have suggested that this year’s tourist season will start a little later, some time in July, are still valid. There was no indication that this would be pushed back, he said, so only March, April, May and June would be lost. The fact that Cyprus is one of three or four Mediterranean countries that have dealt with the coronavirus crisis very well means the island is being considered by tour operators, he added.
How could the deputy minister make this prediction when there are so many unknowns that he has no control over?
First of all, according to the president’s admission, the epidemiologists advising the government are to have the final say about the gradual lifting of measures and the situation will be reviewed every two weeks. Apart from the excessive caution of the scientists, if there is a new outbreak of the virus after the lifting of some restrictions, we would go back into lockdown.
Even if this does not happen, does anyone know when the airports will be open? Media have been speculating it will be some time in June, but nobody can make a safe prediction. And, once they are open, how long will it take before regular flights commence and what will be the cost of air fares? If the price of a seat doubles in price because of the limited supply, how many tourists will be coming to Cyprus?
Should it also be mentioned that our two biggest tourist markets – UK and Russia – are still facing big coronavirus problems and people from these countries are unlikely to be going on holidays any time soon, assuming that Cyprus would accept them. The Cyprus authorities, justifiably, are unlikely to welcome tourists from countries in which the virus is not completely under control.
Predictably, Perdios said there were ‘positive indications’ from Scandinavian countries, as well as Austria and Switzerland, but will there be flights from these countries to Cyprus by July? The truth is nobody can give convincing answers or make safe predictions when so many different factors, many out of our control, are at play. The deputy minister for tourism is as much in the dark about this year’s tourist arrivals as the rest of us and should not be making predictions that have no basis in reality.