COVID19: Demand to ease travel restrictions for tourists

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Local tourism stakeholders are calling on authorities to relax ‘strict’ health protocols for coronavirus which is discouraging tourists from visiting Cyprus.

The Cyprus Hotel Association, the Association of Cyprus Touristic Enterprises (ACTE), Hermes Airport and the Association of Cyprus Travel Agents (ACTA) have suggested to the government that measures to contain COVID-19 regarding are less stringent for tourist arrivals.

They claim in a letter sent to the Ministers of Health, Transport, Finance, and Tourism and President Nicos Anastasiades that less than 0.3% of passengers have tested positive.

Based on the above argument, the stakeholders have tabled two suggestions to be implemented immediately to boost both winter tourism and facilitate their plans for the summer season.

Stakeholders argue that EU countries along with the UK and those included in the Schengen agreement should remain in category B – the need for a negative COVID-19 – test until the end of the year.

“This will give the opportunity to retain flight schedules from countries who slip into category C which means that flights are cancelled since the entry of tourists or visitors from those countries will no longer be allowed. Indicatively, 14 European countries are currently in category C”.

Stakeholders argue that presenting a negative coronavirus test is more than enough to safeguard Cyprus from importing cases while health authorities could increase random tests.

Stakeholders want authorities to extend the time window in which passengers can take the test before boarding their flight from 72 hours to 96, as they claim labs now take longer to deliver results due to increased demand.

While accepting this year is a complete write-off, stakeholders argue their suggestions are essential preconditions to keep tour operators’ interest alive ahead of next summer.

“Otherwise we will enter uncharted waters next year with all the negative consequences on the economy that entails”.

Cyprus has seen annual tourist arrivals plunge by 80% due to the pandemic.