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Cypriot tour operators: ‘Worst crisis ever’

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Cyprus tour operators say they are facing the worst crisis in their history and on the brink of collapse after waves of holiday cancellations due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The Association of Cyprus Travel Agents Association (ACTA) called on the state to step in and provide financial aid to tour operators.

The global coronavirus pandemic has hit tourism first, and hardest, with a combination of travel restrictions and fear of being infected prompting cancellations argues ACTA.

Vassilis Stamataris, Chairman of ACTA, said that on top of a reduction in air services globally, there have been conference cancellations, and cancelled package holidays.

As he said Cyprus tour operators are responsible for 70% of incoming tourism and 100% of outgoing.

Losses are currently running at around €30 mln from the collapsed sales, he claimed.

Stamataris said many of ACTA’s 200 or so members were trying to figure out ways to stay afloat with one of the measures being “lay-offs”.

“Unfortunately, it appears that several travel agencies will stop operating, which will be a major blow for Cyprus’ tourism.”

ACTA’s chairman has asked the government to include tour operators in any government support plans such as the suspension of taxes, VAT and social security payments to the state.

He echoed hoteliers’ fears that March was a write-off while April and May was not looking any better.

“Easter bookings are at zero,” he stressed, adding that the only hope for the sector is if summer period picks up.

Stamataris said this was the first time in the association’s history that they have had to asked for state help.

He noted that the industry had not asked for help when local airlines like Cyprus Airways and Cobalt collapsed, nor when previous epidemics like SARS and Swine Flu had scarred them.

Tourism is the key driver of the economy contributing around 15% of Cyprus GDP.