COVID19: Cyprus expects less than 25% of annual tourist arrivals

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Cyprus has lowered its expectations on tourist arrivals believing it will get less than 25% of the record 3.9 million visitors welcomed in 2019 due to COVID-19 impacting on key holiday markets Britain, Russia and Israel.

Deputy Tourism Minister Savvas Perdios said his ministry has lowered its expectations for this year’s tourist arrivals due to worsening epidemiological data in its main tourist markets.

Perdios said the aim of attracting 25% of last year’s arrivals is no longer feasible while continuing contacts with tour operators to form a clearer picture.

Main markets, such as Britain, Russia, Israel, and Sweden, which constituted 64% of all tourist arrivals in 2019 are not on the approved entry list because of the pandemic in those countries.

British tourists are expected to get the nod in August but on the condition, they have tested negative for coronavirus (category B).

Other countries that Cyprus which turned to like Lebanon and the UAE are also not on the approved entry list while Belgium, France, the Netherlands are currently in category B.

“We have had the misfortune of seeing our main sources of tourism, having difficulties in dealing with the pandemic, a fact with which we have to come to terms with,” Perdios told CNA.

He said that these factors would by definition mean that Cyprus will not be coming close to reaching its 25% target.

Perdios said the bad situatio9n is compounded by tour operators not offering packages to the island from countries which Cyprus asks travellers to carry out a coronavirus test before boarding a plane.

“British tour operators are adamant about not organising trips to countries that require a COVID-19 test, regardless of how much the test costs”.

Perdios said the upside of Cyprus’ good epidemiological image was “the number of tourists looking to book their own holidays is on the rise, as visits to the deputy ministry’s website have increased by 400%”.

He pointed out, however, that transitioning from group bookings to attracting individual tourists will not happen overnight.

Perdios argued that tourists interested in safe destinations have Cyprus on their radar due to its good epidemiological data and a successful online campaign.

Domestic tourism is also seen as key with most Cypriots expected to stay on the island this summer.

“As our main markets will be out of the game until at least mid-August, it is a good opportunity to promote deals for local tourists who usually go on holiday until 20 August.”