Cyprus hoteliers are pushing the government to allow entry to vaccinated Israeli tourists without needing a PCR test or quarantine earlier for the Jewish Passover holiday.
The Cyprus Hotel Association wants the ‘Green Passport’ initiative, agreed by President Nicos Anastasiades and Israel’s Premier Benjamin Netanyahu, introduced a week early to attract Israeli holidaymakers during Passover March 27 – April 4.
This month, Cyprus agreed that vaccinated Israeli tourists could enter without needing a PCR test or quarantine from April 1.
It covers Israelis vaccinated with one of the three COVID-19 vaccines approved by the European Medicines Agency and received the second jab at least seven days before travelling.
Israelis wanting to travel to Cyprus without going into quarantine must have been inoculated with either Pfizer, AstraZeneca or Moderna.
According to site Philenews, CHA wrote to President Anastasiades urging him to introduce the agreement during the Passover holiday as Israelis are keen on travelling to Cyprus.
It would help hotels cover lost ground as Israel was the country’s third-largest market in 2019, providing Cyprus with 300,000 tourists.
In comments to Philenews, CHA director-general Philokypros Rousounides confirmed the association’s request, adding that hoteliers want to see similar agreements with the UK and Russia – Cyprus’ two largest markets.
He said the government needs to maintain support packages provided to employees in the sector, which expires in March.
Rousounides argued that the extension of support would facilitate the reopening of hotels and avoid layoffs in the industry.
Chrisemily Psilogeni of the Association of Cyprus Tourist Enterprises (ACTE) said that hotels would not reopen this year without state support.
She said for Cyprus to face the competition in the region, the VAT rate for accommodation in hotels should remain at a reduced 5% from 9%, as it was last year.
Before the pandemic, Cyprus welcomed a record 3.97 million tourist in 2019, with the UK being Cyprus’ largest tourist market, making up a third of annual tourist arrivals, followed by Russian and Israel.
Arrivals in 2020 dropped by 84.1% due to the coronavirus outbreak and subsequent lockdowns across the globe.