Cyprus’ decision to allow vaccinated Britons’ entry to the country ahead of the rest of the EU was spurred by the bloc’s reluctance to take a decisive stance on Covid-19 immunity certificates, the deputy tourism minister said on Saturday.
On why Cyprus had broken ranks with other EU members, Savvas Perdios told the Guardian newspaper that visitors, holidaymakers and the travel industry all “needed clarity”.
“We felt that we had to announce it because we don’t know when an agreement will be reached at a European level,” Perdios said. “For people who are going to be travelling here, we wanted to provide certainty that Cyprus is going to be ready to welcome them. Travel planning requires certainty.”
The government announced on Thursday that it would allow the arrivals of vaccinated British tourists to the island from May 1 without restrictions, such as diagnostic tests and quarantine.
The news was widely reported in British media, with the Times on Friday citing travel experts as saying a “wall of money” will be spent on trips to Cyprus.
The minister, Savvas Perdios, on Saturday welcomed the “huge publicity in Britain over the Cypriot government’s decision”.
He said the announcement was carried by the largest news networks in the UK, which also mentioned “that our country is among the top five in the world in managing the pandemic and its consequences”.
“This improves the prospects for the upcoming tourist season which will be further strengthened after the intensive consultations that the ministry will have in March, with all travel organisers,” Perdios said in a statement.
He added that his ministry, along with the ministry of transport will also have consultations with Hermes, the company running the Larnaca and Paphos airports, travel agents and with airlines.
In the Guardian interview, Perdios said Cypriot and British teams were already in talks to discuss the details of how vaccine passports would work.
Perdios clarified earlier that this restriction-free entry would only apply to British nationals who have received both doses of the vaccine, the second vaccine being administered at least seven days prior to the date of travel. Authorities in Cyprus will still take random samples at the airports, including among those having been vaccinated.
Those vaccinated must still observe all protocols on arrival – masks and distancing.
This decision follows a similar deal with Israel last month for no restrictions to vaccinated Israelis travelling to Cyprus from April 1.