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Coronavirus: ‘Government schemes only thing keeping hotels open’

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Paphos hotels are operating at 15 per cent occupancy rates and would be closed were it not for state support, president of the Paphos branch of the Cyprus Hotel Association said on Monday.

Thanos Michaelides told the Cyprus News Agency that despite interest from locals for weekend stays, numbers were inadequate to make a noticeable impact on occupancies.

“If we did not have the schemes of the labour ministry supporting hotel employees, hotels would surely be closed,” he said.

Most Paphos hotels re-opened in May in anticipation of visitors from the UK, but such hopes were dashed after the British government opted to include Cyprus, along with most other tourism destinations, in the amber category requiring quarantine on return. Its decision to shift Portugal from green to orange during its first review only fuelled further uncertainty.

Michaelides said July occupancies are also projected to be very low, pending developments in the UK market. Hotels have seen a number of cancellations and no new bookings.

“If July is like June the only way to operate hotels if they are under-operating as they are now, is with the hotel employees’ support scheme,” he said.

Pending a final decision from the UK government, British visitors are not making any holiday bookings because they do not want to take the risk of a category change. “No tourist will book holidays unless they know what the situation is.”

Every month lost in the summer cannot be recuperated later in the year, however well the late autumn and winter months perform. “Unfortunately, we are going through a difficult year. Hoteliers are waiting because they want to operate their hotels.”

He praised the ministry’s support scheme, which covers a significant part of employees’ salaries, because not only did it provide employment but allows staff to retain their skills and be in a state of readiness.

As to the forthcoming three-day weekend, Michaelides said there was keen interest from locals, but said the three days of business would not make a meaningful impact on occupancy levels.

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