Cyprus will see an increase in UK tourists from mid-August after a major British tour operator came to an agreement with the Deputy Tourism Ministry to reinstate package holidays to the island.
This was revealed by Deputy Minister of Tourism, Savvas Perdios to state radio CyBC.
He did, however, avoid revealing more details on the request of the tour operator in question, although some news reports suggested it was Jet2.
Perdios clarified that Cyprus did not make any concessions on its health protocol regarding arrivals from countries categorised in category B, in which the UK has been slotted since 1 August.
UK tourists will be allowed entry on the condition they carry a coronavirus negative test less than 72 hours before their arrival, like everyone else arriving from a Category B country.
Countries are classified into 3 categories, with passengers from Category A allowed in without a health certificate but are subject to random checks while Category C passengers need to carry a negative COVID-19 test and self-quarantine for 14 days.
Perdios argued that the agreement was the result of his ministry’s hard work and a targeted promotional campaign.
He said that results proved it to be successful with the tour operator expected to bring a large number of British tourists to Cyprus.
Perdios admitted that the majority of arrivals from Britain since 1 August did not stay at hotels.
He said that a large percentage involved people who own homes in Cyprus while others stayed with relatives or in rented private villas.
The UK is Cyprus’ largest tourist market making up a third of annual tourist arrivals which reached 3.97 million in 2019.
Travel agents have complained about the obligatory test travellers from the UK have to take before flying to Cyprus, deeming it a strong deterrent for potential holidaymakers.
Reportedly, coronavirus tests in the UK cost around £200, if carried out in the private sector while the NHS will only test people with symptoms.
TUI and Jet2 cancelled their programmes to Cyprus until mid-August in the hope the UK will make it to the list of category A countries, where no COVID-19 test is required.
In a bid to save tourist arrivals, Cyprus hoteliers had urged the government to offer British tourists a free coronavirus test upon arrival, with hoteliers chipping in 50%.
Their proposal was shot down by the government arguing that it could not apply different standards by making an exception for tourists arriving from the UK.