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COVID19: Swedish, UK tour operators to resume flights mid-September

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The struggling travel industry might get a last-minute reprieve as Sweden’s top tour operator and the UK’s Tui are expected to resume flights to Cyprus from September 14, but tourism stakeholders are not thrilled.

The unnamed Swedish tour operator will be followed by a second British tour operator – thought to be Tui – which will resume operations sometime in September.

Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos told state radio CyBC on Friday that a deal has been brokered whereby tourists arriving from Sweden will be tested for Covid-19 prior to their departure.

As the Scandinavian country has been classed as a Category B destination, meaning it is medium-risk, passengers must secure their test 72 hours prior to departure.

Otherwise, tourists would have to pay to be tested upon arrival at either Larnaca or Paphos airport and remain in hotel quarantine until they receive the result, usually within 24 or 48 hours.

It was not made clear whether Cyprus would be contributing in any way towards the cost of tests taken by Swedes prior to their departure.

Karousos that a second British tour operator is also resuming flights to Cyprus, following the start of Jet2 on August 17.

It is understood that the Minister was referring to TUI, which has announced that they are to resume flights sometime in the second half of September.

Karousos also said that Cyprus is seeing a steady increase in passenger traffic as airlines are steadily reintroducing flights to their schedule.

He said that with the increased flights, daily passenger traffic at both airports, departures and arrivals, reached about 10,000, a far cry from the 200-300 arrivals when the airports first opened to holidaymakers in June.

Included in the 10,000 are Cypriots travelling abroad for holidays, Cyprus and permanent residents repatriating, overseas Cypriots taking advantage of improved capacity and rates at hotels and Cypriot students returning to their universities, mainly in Greece and the UK.

Commenting on the increase in flights, director-general of the Cyprus Hotel Association, Philokypros Roussounides said that hoteliers don’t expect much to change.

“It is definitely a ray of light shining through the dark times that have befallen upon us, but we do not expect things to drastically change.

As things stand today, we have lost 80% of the expected tourist flow while the situation with pandemic worldwide is unstable,” said Roussounides.

He said Cyprus hotels are focusing on campaigning for 2021, making use of any increase in traffic to better prepare for the next season.