Hoteliers fear they are in for the worst August on record for tourist arrivals with the majority of smaller hotels refraining from reopening even during what is normally the busiest month of the year.
Data collected by website Stockwatch suggest that just 40% of hotel beds in Cyprus will be available to a smaller pool of foreign and local tourists while 80% of hotels have yet to reopen.
Smaller hotels have opted to remain closed as fewer foreign tourists are expected to arrive.
Tourism Minister Savvas Perdios concedes Cyprus is unable to save even a quarter of last year’s 3.97 million arrivals (1.33 million of those were British).
Cyprus tourism has been devastated by the pandemic as main markets Britain, Russia, Israel, and Sweden, constituting 64% of all tourist arrivals in 2019, are not on the approved entry list because of their COVID-19 risk status.
Perdios said the island should expect 100,000 tourists in August, instead of the usual 500,000 visitors.
Cyprus Hotel Association Paphos chairman, Thanos Michaelides, told Stockwatch: “Just 54 tourist units ( from 271) reopened in the district while a small number of hotels plan to reopen in August”.
He said from a total of 29,621 beds, just 11,496 are available today, that is about 38.8%.
“As long as Britain is in category B, British tourists will not travel to Cyprus. So far there are no bookings from the British market while those which were in the system have been cancelled,” said Michaelides.
UK tour operators are not offering Cyprus holiday packages as entry requires testing negative for COVID-19.
“Hoteliers have already started talking to the travel organizers for the 2021 tourist season.
Our only hope is that everything goes well with the pandemic so that in 2021 we have a better season than this year,” said Michaelides.
Things are no better in Protaras where just 70 out of 239 hotel resorts have resumed business. There are currently 19,000 beds available from a total of 38,548.
Tragic in Limassol
CHA’s Limassol chairman Charis Theocharous said that the situation in the town is a nothing less than tragic.
“In Limassol, just 12 of the 70 hotels have reopened, but there are some 11,048 beds available, that is around 50-60% of the total. This is because the bigger hotels were able to open.”
Larnaca hoteliers are utterly discouraged, said chairwoman of the local association Ioanna Florentiadou.
She pointed out that only two large hotels reopened along with several small units, resulting in 15% of beds being available in the town.
Hoteliers were initially hoping that British tourists would save the day.
As of August 1, the UK will be included on Cyprus’ safe list, slotted in category B which requires arrivals presenting a negative Covid-19 test.
But Britons will have a hard time booking a Cyprus holiday before the end of August as tour operators refuse to include the island in their offers.
Earlier in the month, Cyprus hoteliers urged the government to encourage British tourists to choose the island by absorbing the cost of coronavirus tests.
The Cyprus Hotel Association said that they would stump up 50% of the cost for the tests if the government put in the other 50%.
However, their proposal was shot down by the cabinet, with the Tourism Minister arguing that no exceptions could be made for Britons.
“The government is clear that no citizens from a country other than Cyprus will be able to take the test in Cyprus unless it is proven to be impossible for them to get it at home,” said Perdios.
“We are informed that British citizens may find it a little difficult to secure this certificate, but it is just as difficult and perhaps more difficult for citizens from other countries”.