Cyprus could be on Britain’s ‘green list’ in three to six weeks, a top official has said, as the island seeks to prevent another lost tourism season.
Cyprus is currently on the ‘amber list’, which sees travellers incur a ten-day self-isolation upon return to Britain and two PCR tests required.
Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos said the three to six week timeframe – Britain reviews its travel list every three weeks – is feasible as Cyprus’ coronavirus cases have dramatically decreased.
He said Britain’s main criteria for induction into the ‘green list’ appears to be the destination country’s vaccination rate.
Interviewed by Politis on Thursday, he was asked why bookings have not gone up – despite Cyprus’ repeated efforts to entice foreign travellers.
“We’ve already seen an important increase in the number of flights scheduled, it’s about 200 hundred this week, this will rise to about 500 in June and by August this will increase to 700 a week,” Karousos said.
“There is tourism, and anyone who has been to Ayia Napa in the past few days can confirm this for themselves.”
Britain has long been the strongest market and source of tourists for Cyprus, as seen in 2018 when Britons made up 30 per cent of the 3,938,625 visitors for that year – while Russia accounted for 9.4 per cent and Israel 8.7 per cent.
As the British market is currently non-existent, Cyprus has moved to draw in travellers from Russia – recognising the Sputnik V vaccine as valid for entry without restrictions.
But there is unease amongst some, as critics say that allowing in tourists from abroad also heightens the risk of importing variants of concern – most notably the Indian variant.
The government has long had to balance concerns amongst the public that sacrifices made throughout the pandemic should not be put at risk to save the tourism industry.
Karousos sought to calm those fears, saying that Cyprus was amongst the first countries worldwide to require negative tests to enter the country – in the form of the flight pass.
He also said that Cyprus has a strict country categorisation process.
Nevertheless, Cyprus recorded its first cases of the Indian variant this week.