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COVID19: UK-dependent Paphos hotels can’t see way out of lockdown

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Uncertainty over when Cyprus airports will open and for which countries, UK-dependent Paphos hotels are unable to launch any sort of promotion campaign.

Paphos hotels are suffering the most under lockdown imposed to stem the spread of coronavirus, as they are heavily dependent on tourists from the UK – the island’s largest market by far.

As thing stand today, Cyprus will not be welcoming Britons until late summer due to the COVID-19 landscape in Britain.

While still closed, the majority of hotels in Paphos are contemplating whether they should open at all when they get the green light.

In comments to Phileleftheros daily, chairman of the Paphos hotels association, said that hoteliers are stuck as they have no clue how the airports will operate or what health protocols hotels need to implement.

“We were waiting for protocols on how airports will start opening up, only to find out that Britain will not be among the first countries from which tourists will be allowed to come in,” said Thanos Michaelides.

He argued that hoteliers wasted time waiting for Britain to get the green light, while they “cannot campaign at all for July and August, as we do not have the final protocols on how hotels are to operate”.

He said that Paphos hoteliers, in particular, are faced with a very difficult situation as prior to the pandemic, they had already sold rooms, for which they now have to pay refunds.

“We have already lost all bookings for April and May, and our customers’ question now is what will happen in June, which as I explained we cannot yet answer. This means that potential customers take that as a no,” said Michaelides.

Many Paphos hotels are thinking of not opening at all this summer.

Michaelides said, “the majority of Paphos hotels have more than 200 rooms each. It will be impossible for them to operate with just 20 or 30 customers each”.

He believes that remaining closed is not a solution, as problems will just mount up, as not opening will still mean that hotels will be accumulating damages in tens of thousands of euros, making it more difficult for them to bounce back next season.

Paphos hotels argue that uncertainty regarding the UK market makes it even more pressing that hoteliers are informed of when and which markets are to be open.

At the moment Cyprus is likely to see its first batch of foreign tourists this summer come from Greece, Germany and Austria.

“Given that our two largest markets, Britain and Russia, are facing particular problems with the spread of coronavirus, we need to be able to attract tourists from as many markets as possible so that we can reduce the damage,” said Michaelides.