The UK has lifted travel advice to British nationals to avoid all but essential travel to Cyprus, based on the current assessment of Covid-19 risks, but tourism stakeholders warned that this might not change much until the epidemiological situation improves.
The decision, published on Monday, said “the FCDO no longer advises against all but essential travel to Cyprus, based on the current assessment of Covid-19 risks.”
Cyprus is on the UK’s amber list of countries, which means travellers have to take a Covid test inside 72 hours before they travel back to the UK.
They must also quarantine for 10 days upon return and take another test on day two and day eight of quarantine.
This is undoubtedly a positive development as the UK is the largest market for Cypriot tourism, general director of the Association of Cyprus Tourist Enterprises (Stek) Chrisemily Psilogeni told the Cyprus Mail.
Similarly, Cyprus hotel association (Pasyxe) director Philokypros Roussounides told CyBC that the move might open a small window of opportunity for the tourism industry. “We are cautiously optimistic, but we know we won’t have the same numbers we experienced in other years,” he said.
Plus “due to the epidemiological data recorded in recent weeks, Cyprus is in an inferior position to more competitive destinations with better data,” Psilogeni added.
“Malta has been in the UK’s green category for weeks, and it has been suggested in the UK press that the next evaluation might see another Mediterranean destination upgraded to green – Italy”.
On July 8, Cyprus was ‘downgraded’ to the ‘dark red’ zone in the latest update issued by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), after registering 493.13 cases per 100,000 inhabitants over the previous 14 days.
The data concern week 25 to week 26. The ECDC updates its classification each week.
Cyprus at that stage was the only country/territory inside the EU/European Economic Area designated as ‘dark red’ – deemed the riskiest from an epidemiological standpoint. It slipped from ‘red’ in the previous ECDC update.
The number of positives has remained stubbornly in the high triple digits for weeks.
Psilogeni finally warned that “if our epidemiological situation does not improve, we will not be a first choice – not for British tourists, and not for travel agents”.