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COVID19: Travel agents placing bets on September holidays

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Cyprus travel agents are placing their bets on the autumn months as, if all goes well, the majority of countries will have lifted restrictive measures introduced to stem the coronavirus pandemic.

Chairman of the Association of Cyprus Travel Agents Vasilis Stamataris said that while the summer season can partially be saved as the island is expected to receive its first tourists sometime in July, arrivals will not be anywhere near the norm.

“The big bet now, is to try and save the remainder of the year while keeping tourism’s engines running so as to mitigate losses and prepare for 2021,” said Stamataris.

He said that ACTA expects that September or October will have better returns, as many tourists will not be able to go on holidays during the summer months due to lockdowns.

Cyprus has a clear advantage over other destinations later in the year as temperatures are still high.

Stamataris said that Cyprus travel agents are in constant contact with their partners abroad.

“We are taking action and what we can say is there is interest from tour operators to promote travel to Cyprus, which is considered a near coronavirus-free country,” said Stamataris.

He said Cyprus tourism stakeholders are waiting for the EU to issue European health protocols which will be effective across the bloc.

Cyprus authorities have not stood by waiting for the EU to decide on protocols and has put together a list of countries from which tourists will be accepted during the first stage of opening the airports.

Authorities are also looking into what protocols will be followed, including whether travellers are to be tested for coronavirus before getting on the plane to the island.

Stamataris said that efforts are being made to set up such a safe tourist corridor between Cyprus and Greece, while Israel has exhibited interest to get on board.

Moving forward, Stamataris said that Cyprus will have to rethink its tourism model.

Describing the struggle to bring back large numbers of tourists as near to impossible.

“Cyprus could diversify its basket by including themed tourism such as religious tourism, and sustainable tourism, so as to increase the number of countries from which the island can attract tourists.”

He agreed that traditional mass tourism should not be abandoned, as this is what keeps and expands Cyprus’ connectivity with the rest of the world. (source CNA)