COVID19: Green passports, UK lockdown exit good for tourism

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Cyprus is cautiously optimistic ahead of the summer due to a bilateral deal with Israel to allow its COVID-19 vaccinated tourists entry without quarantine while UK holidaymakers should rise.

As of 1 April, Israelis vaccinated with a vaccine approved by the European Medicine Association (EMA) will not be required to take a PCR test to travel to Cyprus and not be asked to self-isolate upon arrival.

The deal was struck when President Nicos Anastasiades visited Israel last month.

In comments to state radio CyBC, Deputy Tourism Minister Savvas Perdios said the deal with Israel should act as an example for the EU to allow vaccinated travellers to move freely.

He expressed satisfaction over consultations at the European Council regarding the introduction of ‘vaccine passports’ (Digital Green Pass).

The UK government’s plan to allow foreign trips from mid-May will undoubtedly help Cyprus’ tourism industry, as Britain is Cyprus’ largest tourist market.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announcement that international travel may restart on 17 May prompted a surge in bookings, with Cyprus among Britons’ preferred destinations.

Perdios took part in a teleconference with other EU tourism ministers to discuss ways to promote a more effective pan-European approach to support the COVID-hit tourism industry and boost traveller confidence.

Green passports

One of the issues on the table were the adoption of a common approach to vaccination certificates and rapid testing.

Perdios said vaccination certificates would allow “vaccinated citizens to travel without laboratory tests, while not excluding those who have not been vaccinated, as they will be able to do so by presenting a negative laboratory test for coronavirus”.

He said that the EU Commission has committed to presenting a concrete proposal on vaccination passports by the end of March.

“The decrease in tourist revenue and arrivals in 2020 reached 85%. The numbers speak for themselves.

“Cyprus is the member state whose tourism industry may have taken the biggest blow,” said Perdios.

Due to coronavirus pandemic restrictions, tourist arrivals plunged by 84.1% in 2020 from 3.97 mln tourists in 2019, marking Cyprus’ worst tourist seasons.

The pandemic ended four successive record years of tourist arrivals that helped Cyprus emerge from a financial crisis in 2013.