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COVID19: Tourism on life support for six more months

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Hoteliers are exasperated as they do not expect to see serious tourist arrivals to Cyprus until the summer while hoping that mass vaccinations will help them turn a corner.

Cyprus Hotel Association’s Paphos Chair Thanos Michaelides said the second wave of COVID-19 infections crippling Europe has forced all major tour operators to freeze any plans they were making for the summer.

“This means, the tourism industry will not get a reboot any time before the summer,” Michaelides told Philenews on Thursday.

“We have to face the reality that in the first half of the new year, the situation will be very difficult.

“Already, this winter is proving to be much more difficult for tourism businesses than last year when some companies were able to sell packages at the beginning of the pandemic,” said Michaelides.

He argued that summer bookings are also up in the air since tour operators cannot promote destinations.

“Tour operators have not chartered flights for the summer, as there is no visibility as to when air connections will be reinstated,” said Michaelides.

He estimated that good news regarding the tourist traffic of 2021 will only start coming in when vaccination programs get ahead of the pandemic, with a large percentage of the general populations getting a jab.

“Until then, unfortunately, the tourism sector will continue to be grounded, as it was the past months.”

Earlier in December, hopes of reviving pandemic-battered Cyprus tourism in 2021 were rekindled as mass vaccinations against COVID-19 get underway in the UK, the island’s largest market.

Cyprus has also said that as of March 1, it will be allowing vaccinated people in without any further demand for a test or quarantine.

However, the second wave of infections has gripped Britain with the government instructing people to stay at home until, as cases take off and COVID-19 deaths reach new heights.

On Wednesday, UK health services announced another 38,905 new cases and a horrifying record of 1,820 deaths in just one day.

Under normal circumstances, the UK supplies a third of annual tourist arrivals to Cyprus which reached a record 3.97 million in 2019.

Pandemic lockdowns and travel restrictions saw arrivals drop by 84.1% in 2020.