A cautiously optimistic picture of the coming months was painted by stakeholders taking part in a conference on the restart of the tourism industry on Tuesday with the consensus that there is still room for recovery from last year disastrous figures.
The conference, Cyprus Hospitality Industry 2021: Restarting Roadmap, brought together hotel owners’ association (Pasyxe) director general Philokypros Roussounides and chairman Haris Loizides, Deputy Tourism Minister Savvas Perdios, Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos and Hermes airports communications director Maria Kouroupi.
Αs of April 1, Cyprus airports will be open to travellers on the basis of ECDC’s traffic-light categorisation system, which classifies countries into green, orange and red categories. Travellers will not have to quarantine, but instead present one or two negative Covid tests, depending on their country category.
Borders will be open to vaccinated Israeli nationals from the same date and from May 1 for UK nationals, the island’s largest tourist market.
Perdios said the government intends on extending an invitation to Russian tourists, Cyprus’ second largest tourist market, to reassure them that “we will open to welcome them. It is a matter of time for us to make the first move,” he said.
He said the finance ministry is preparing a note verbal, notifying the Russian authorities that Cyprus will open for the Russian tourist market.
Loizides and Karousos agreed that a possible bilateral agreement with the Russian Federation would enable flights to and from Russia to begin, which could be very profitable.
At the same time, Kouroupi said that even though March has been “lost,” April might be saved by Israel and Russia, and even if the UK travel ban is not lifted, the rest of the summer months and even the autumn will see a lot of movement from other countries such as Germany, Austria, Poland and Scandinavia.
A crucial point stressed by all participants was the need to improve the island’s epidemiological picture by accelerating vaccinations, so that it gets out of the ECDC’s ‘red zone’, which will make Cyprus be seen as a more desirable and safe destination.
Loizides asked authorities to set a date for the opening of hotels for Cypriots as well, so that preparations can begin. “The goal is to keep businesses running and preserve jobs,” he stressed.