The optimism that greeted last week’s announcement about the opening of the airports on June 9 did not last very long, as people are realising that it would take much more than that to kick-start the tourism industry. Not only would many people be afraid to travel, but many of them would also be reluctant to spend money on a holiday abroad given the economic uncertainty caused by the pandemic and the world recession that is certain to follow.
For Cyprus things are ominous because its two main tourist markets – UK and Russia, that account for close to 70 per cent of arrivals – are still in the lockdown phase and are not in the two categories of countries from which visitors will be accepted, on June 9 and then from June 20. In short, no Briton or Russian will be booking a holiday here before Cyprus announces accepting visitors from their countries. It has not helped that most of the confirmed cases of Covid-19, in the last few days, were people arriving from the UK.
As if this were not bad enough we have made things even more difficult for ourselves by demanding a health certificate from each tourist (until June 19 from countries in the first category) issued less than three days before their arrival. This will certainly discourage people visiting as it will increase the cost of their holiday. The same would apply to visitors from the second category of countries that would be allowed here from June 20. People who cannot obtain a health certificate from their country of origin will be able to be tested on arrival to Cyprus, said the government, as if this were a great incentive.
This, more than anything, highlights the absurdity of the measure. Not only would visitors have to pay for the test at the Cyprus airport they would also have to wait for as long as 24 hours until the results are given and God forbid that the result is positive. Would the tourists be locked up in a hotel room or sent back home? And would the government then advise the rest of the passengers on the same flight to self-isolate in their hotel room because they may also have been infected? Not only are we making Cyprus more expensive for tourists but with airport testing there is the potential for someone’s visit to turn into a holiday prison.
Greece has not imposed such a measure on its visitors, probably because the government thought through the implications of the health certificate. The common sense approach would have been for the government to open airports on June 19 without the need for certificates and testing which are a big disincentive for anyone to visit a country.