Cyprus is among the most searched destinations as Britons consider their holiday options, but UK tour operators will not send customers until the Foreign Office lifts its travel guidance to avoid non-essential travel to Cyprus, a top tourism professional said on Monday.
Sean Tipton, spokesman of ABTA (Association of British Travel Agents) spoke to the Cyprus News Agency on the day Britain lifted its four-month holiday travel ban. But the UK has designated only 12 countries and territories safe for quarantine-free travel and told people not to go on holiday to countries which are not on the green list.
Cyprus, like most of Europe has been designated amber, meaning that those who go against that guidance must take two post-arrival tests, and are also required to self-isolate for 10 days after returning home. They can reduce that time if they take an additional negative test on day-five. The cost of additional tests is seen as a significant factor as tourists weigh their options.
Tipton said there was a lot of pent-up demand in the UK for holiday abroad and Cyprus was among the most popular searches.
“Despite this, the Foreign Office still recommends avoiding non-essential travel and tour operators will not send their clients to the country until this guidance is lifted,” he said.
Tipton said that although there will be flights with clients from the UK as from today, numbers will be quite small.
“Placing Cyprus on the amber list has also put a lid on demand. However, the cost of the tests required has already started to drop and the continuing roll out of the vaccination programme undoubtedly will help encourage customers as the year progresses,” he added.
The UK is Cyprus’ biggest tourism market. After a dismal 2020, the battered tourism sector is anxious for a better summer and is hoping improvements in the epidemiological situation and rules allowing vaccinated visitors to enter without the need to self-isolate or carry out PCR tests will help business.
Indicative of the importance of the tourism sector to the economy, President Nicos Anastasiades will tomorrow chair a meeting at Larnaca airport to be attended also by the transport minister, the deputy minister of tourism among others.