Cyprus seeks to woo tourists post-coronavirus lockdown by pledging to cover medical costs of visitors who test positive for COVID-19 while enjoying a holiday on the island.
The unusual move is outlined in a letter to tour operators and airlines charting health and safety protocols Cyprus is taking to make its tourism sector safe.
The letter made public Wednesday was signed by the Ministers of foreign affairs, transport, and tourism.
Cyprus is marketing itself as a safe holiday destination in the time of coronavirus with a transmission rate below one and very low mortality rate.
Nicosia says it is “committed to taking care of all travellers who test positive during their stay, as well as their families and close contacts”.
The government promises to cover the cost of lodging, food, drink, and medication if a tourist falls ill with coronavirus.
It said in the letter the “traveller will only need to bear the cost of their airport transfer and repatriation flight”.
A COVID-19 100-bed hospital will be available exclusively for tourists who test positive, and “these can be increased at very short notice if required”.
An additional 112 intensive care units with 200 respirators will be reserved for critically ill patients.
Another 500 rooms at designated “quarantine hotels” will be on hand to accommodate family members and close contacts of the person who has contracted the virus.
Hotels will not go into quarantine if a guest tests positive, “instead, rooms used by the person and close contacts, will undergo a deep clean, before being utilized again”.
Cyprus said its travel protocols “provide peace of mind” that visitors will be properly taken care of.
Authorities estimate a 70 per cent loss of its nearly 4 million tourist arrivals this year, dealing a blow to the key tourism industry that generates around 15 per cent of GDP.
Under its exit lockdown road map, Cyprus is scheduled to open its airports from June 9 to a select band of 13 countries that are considered low risk.
UK not on the list
They include Israel, Greece, Germany, Austria and Malta but the island’s two biggest markets Britain and Russia are not on the approved list.
All those arriving between June 9 – 19 will need to provide a health certificate proving they are Covid-19 negative.
From June 20, there will be no need to provide a health certificate from the initial 13 countries and another six countries will be added to the list including Switzerland and Poland.
Tourists will have to fill out a “COVID-19 Traveler Declaration” stating all their travels 14 days prior to their Cyprus trip and that they have neither shown any coronavirus symptoms for 72 hours before departure nor that they have been in contact with infected people 14 days before.
Cyprus says it will update the list of approved countries on a weekly basis based on the scientific data.
There will also be temperature checks, and random testing of travellers, free of charge, when they arrive on the island.
Cyprus says it has one of the lowest ratios of coronavirus cases per capita in Europe having tested more than 10 per cent of its population.
The Republic of Cyprus has a total of 939 coronavirus cases and only 17 deaths.
“Very few countries worldwide, especially in the Mediterranean, can boast about such statistics,” said the letter.
Hotels open on 1 June with staff obligated to wear face masks and rooms disinfected after every departure.
Guest are encouraged to pay by credit card and avoid using cash as a COVID-19 safeguard.
Regularly disinfected sunbeds will be two meters (6.5 feet) apart for people not belonging to the same travel group.
Revenue from tourism generated €2.68 bln in 2019, down 1 per cent from the previous year, bolstered by record arrivals of 3.97 million.
For more information visit www.visitcyprus.com/cyprus-covid19-travel-protocol