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COVID19: Cyprus vows tourist season is not over

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Despite being decimated by the COVID-19 pandemic, Cyprus is not giving up on the holiday season, saying there are three more months to go and the island is open to visitors.

Deputy Minister of Tourism Savvas Perdios has defiantly said: “We do not allow ourselves to consider that this year’s tourist season is over.”

Perdios told a House committee on tourism that Cyprus was still holding out for a late rush of tourists with hope the COVID-excluded markets of Russia and Israel could reopen over the coming weeks.

Russia and Israel are the island’s second and third largest tourist markets respectively but due to their COVID-19 situation are denied entry into Cyprus.

Arrivals from the biggest market Britain have been allowed in with a negative COVID test since 1 August.

Perdios said despite the travel restrictions, the target is still to reach 20% of last year’s tourist arrivals which reached a record 3.97 million.

Cyprus is counting on its stable epidemiological picture allowing it to safely remain open for tourism over the next three months after a lockdown in March saw the airports close for three months.

But the Tourism Minister conceded that no one expects a return to the tourist arrival levels of last year before 2023 or 2024, saying the course will be difficult in the coming years.

“Currently no one can make predictions or set specific goals for 2021.”

Instead of holding tourism exhibitions which usually take place, the ministry will keep in contact with all the airlines that fly to Cyprus and also new carriers.

Perdios said the pandemic highlighted the need to accelerate provisions in the National Tourism Strategy.

He said more importance should be given to individual-orientated tourism to enhance the country’s product, adding however that Cyprus as a small island still needed to rely on large tour operators.