COVID19: Cyprus tourism hit worse than expected

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Cyprus tourism has suffered worse than expected from the fallout of the pandemic with Europe’s second wave initiating more travel lockdowns as tourists dry up.

Deputy Tourism Minister Savvas Perdios said a worst-case scenario of reaching 20% of last year’s record 3.97 million tourist arrivals will not be met.

Both tourist arrivals and income have plunged 84% compared to 2019 (€2.68 bln) instead of the 80% initially estimated.

Perdios told MPs on Tuesday that Cyprus’ strategic tourism plan needed tweaking as a result of coronavirus with over a billion euros in lost revenue.

He noted that the pandemic has led the tourist industry to rapid changes, adding that plans set out for the next two to three years have been fast-tracked.

One of those big ideas is to promote thematic beaches aimed at different interests and different age groups such as quiet beaches without music or water sports.

Agrotourism, sports and religious tourism are others that will be heavily promoted as Cyprus seeks to adapt to a changing market.

Perdios said €7 mln less will be spent on tourism-related infrastructure projects due to COVID budget constraints.

He said tourism has an uncertain future with next year depending on how well Cyprus copes with controlling the pandemic and what travel restrictions will be in place.

“If there is no stability, then it will be impossible to attract tourists.”

Cyprus has classified countries into three categories depending on epidemiological risk. Arrivals from Category A countries are allowed entry to Cyprus without any conditions.

Arrivals from Category B countries are requested to provide a COVID-19 free test within 72 hours prior to their departure.

Only residents, Cypriots and those with a special permit are allowed to enter Cyprus from Category C countries while they are also requested to be quarantined for 14 days.