Cyprus’ battered tourism industry is anxiously awaiting a positive announcement on the British government’s updated country travel list, as some hotels have yet to even reopen.
Hoteliers are worried that the summer of 2021 could be another lost season, despite government support schemes, and are holding their breath ahead of the announcement.
The new travel list will come into force on June 7, but reports indicate that the updated list could be published as soon as Thursday.
Deputy tourism minister Savvas Perdios is in London this week to brief British officials on Cyprus’ improved epidemiological picture – its low positivity rate, high volume of tests and a steadily progressing vaccination programme.
Meanwhile president of the Paphos hoteliers’ association Thanos Michaelides told CNA on Tuesday that “of the 33,000 rooms in Paphos there are 15,000 which are empty”, noting that others are waiting until mid-June to reopen.
Cyprus, as with most of the world’s nations, is on Britain’s amber list – which means travellers must take multiple PCR tests and quarantine upon their return.
This means that in Cyprus many hotels have “incredibly low occupancy rates” with some in the single digits, Michaelides said.
Another official said that a major surge in arrivals is expected as soon as Cyprus gets on to Britain’s green list.
That still means however that Cyprus is in the ECDC’s ‘red’ list (150-499 per 100,000) and is still far from the 25 or fewer cases required to be considered ‘green’.
But that’s the ECDC’s criteria, and reports indicate that Britain is also closely looking at vaccination rates.
Despite restrictions on Britons travelling to some countries because of high numbers of the Delta variant, fully vaccinated arrivals are free to enter the island.
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.