The chairman of the Paphos hotel association called on the government on Sunday to use targeted measures for the pandemic instead of the lockdown, if there are any hopes for the hotel industry to restart.
Speaking to the Cyprus News Agency, Thanos Michaelides said the latest announcement for the third lockdown will have severe consequences for tourism as already, there have been a number of cancellations from primarily Russian tourists who were slated to visit the island. Hopes for Israeli, German and British markets have also been slashed.
Nonetheless, Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos said the sooner 65 to 70 per cent of the population gets vaccinated, the sooner the economy and tourism will get back to a steady pace.
Speaking to reporters in Paralimni regarding tourists that are supposed to be coming to Cyprus for holidays but whose plans are set to be hampered by the third lockdown going into force on Monday, he said “we should look at the forest and not the tree. We shouldn’t risk losing the forest just so we can save a tree.”
According to Karousos, the best way forward is to get vaccines moving, as has been demonstrated in Britain and Israel. “The best vaccine is the one that is available.”
Starting May, things had tentatively started looking upwards for the tourism industry with some bookings from Russia but as soon as the government announced the restrictive lockdown which shuts down all entertainment venues and allows people to go outside with only one SMS per day, a number of cancellations have started coming in across hotels in Paphos, Michaelides said.
People who were considering booking holidays to Cyprus end of May to June are also unlikely to do so “in a country that’s in lockdown” but will probably wait and see how things will unfold, Michaelides said.
The situation in regards to tourism “will get even worse”, he added. It doesn’t matter how many services hotels manage to offer, it’s very difficult for someone to visit a country that’s in full lockdown.
Some interest had been observed with the Israeli market but that’s bound to end now too, he said, while British tourists that were expected to make their reservations won’t be doing so due to the lockdown.
Asked to comment about people booking through Tui, which is the major travel agent for Germany and England and is coordinating with Greece and Cyprus for holidays, Michaelides said it really depends when these tourists want to travel. Northern European countries have holidays not just in August but in April and May which again is inevitably tied to the lockdown.
German tourists have already been comfortably flying to Majorca for the last two weeks, he noted. Considering there are plenty of alternative solutions to Cyprus, tourists will understandably choose to travel elsewhere.
Michaelides called on the government to use more targeted measures on tackling the pandemic whilst continuing vaccinations.
Striking a more reconciliatory tone, the Cyprus Hotel Association Pasyxe in a statement said despite the harshness of the measures, it appears to seem like they are necessary.
“We believe the temporary lockdown will be a barrier in the spread of the virus and in the meantime will open a window of opportunity for vaccinations to move forward at an accelerated pace.”
Most importantly, on May 10, the economy will restart, as will tourism, with the use of green passports that are a ray of optimism, Pasyxe said.