Cyprus expects big tourism losses

Cyprus doesn’t expect to see this year more than 20%-25% of the record 3.97 million vacationing visitors the Mediterranean island nation welcomed in 2019 because the coronavirus pandemic has so far shut out its key tourist markets, the country’s deputy tourism minister said on Wednesday. According to Savvas Perdios, tourism-generated revenue will fall seriously this year.

He also warned that the industry may experience a longer-lasting impact from the pandemic than other sectors of Cyprus’ economy. “People are likely be more cautious about travelling overseas,” Perdios told the AP. Tourism directly contributes more than 13% to Cyprus' 22 billion-euro economy.

Cyprus managed to contain the spread of Covid-19 by imposing a strict lockdown and night-time curfew between March and June. Authorities hoped to attract vacationers after international commercial flights resumed on 9 June. But the country also has taken a cautious approach to reopening in order to prevent virus resurgence through imported cases.

The government established a tiered system for travel restrictions that groups other nations based on their coronavirus infection rates. Travellers from some 21 medium-risk, Category B countries are required to obtain health certificates declaring them virus-free three days before boarding flights to Cyprus. Travelers from Category C countries must undergo a 14-day quarantine on arrival.

The UK, Cyprus' prime market for tourists, is set to be promoted to Category B on 1 August, but Perdios said the compulsory health certificates present an obstacle. British tour operators are reluctant to organise vacation packages to Cyprus as long as the UK remains in category ‘B’. “We expect that for as long as UK will be in Category B, we will be receiving approximately 25% of the usual performance of the market, mainly from individual travelers,” he said.

Cyprus’ other key tourist markets - Russia and Israel - are currently relegated to Category C. “At this stage, public health is the country’s top priority, No compromises could be done on health issues,” Perdios said.

More on this subject: Coronavirus

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