Cyprus faces the grim prospect of another lost year for tourism, the Association of Cyprus Travel Agents (ACTA) warned on Wednesday.
The dire warning was delivered by ACTA spokesman Haris Papacharalambous who told the Cyprus News Agency that lack of proper planning combined with a surge in infections posed a genuine risk of a ‘tragic year’.
“With the epidemiological situation as it is and the lack of a plan by those responsible, the problems are growing and we do not know if in the summer we will have numbers (of visitors) worth mentioning,” he said.
The situation was deteriorating by the day, he noted. “If we do not take care of the issues that are under our control, to have the right basis and come with the correct solutions, how will tourism operate this year?”
Bookings for April and May came from the UK, Israel, and Russia. The Russian market is closed while as regards Israelis there are restrictions by both Israel and Cyprus. In the UK, most tour operators have postponed their flights until the end of June or beginning of July, he said.
Cyprus seems likely to be listed as orange by the UK government, in contrast to Greece which has managed to ‘isolate’ some green tourist areas and will work with the British market. If Cyprus is orange, British tourists on returning would need to quarantine for 10 days and pay for three PCR tests.
A review is due in June and if Cyprus ends up on orange or red for the UK, this will mean the year is lost, he added.
Papacharalambous said the restrictions on moving about – with two SMS permitted a day – were one deterrent for tourists.
“No tourists will come if they can’t leave their hotel. The SMS is a joke when aimed at tourists. We need to understand that tourists will not have contacts with Cypriots. They will go to the sea to swim to pass their time,” he said.
Demand is so low that hotels are reconsidering when they will open.
ACTA wants the PCR test required from arrivals from red countries to be replaced by a rapid test at the airport where visitors will also get their result. Otherwise, visitors board buses go to the hotel and wait for their PCR result. Should they test positive, all those sitting close by needs to be quarantined, the spokesman said.
And he reiterated calls from the tourism sector that staff be given priority for vaccinations, a practice he said other tourist-receiving countries are following.