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Cyprus opens doors to vaccinated Britons

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From May 1, Cyprus will open its doors to Covid-19 vaccinated British tourists who will be allowed entry without needing a negative test or undergo quarantine, the tourism minister said.

“We have informed the British government that as of May 1, we will facilitate the arrival of British citizens immunised with EU-licensed vaccines to enter Cyprus with no negative Covid-19 test and no quarantine,” Cypriot tourism minister Savvas Perdios told the Cyprus News Agency.

He said the arrangement is the same that Cyprus agreed with Israel last month.

“This is a very important development for tourism and follows the arrangement with Israel, as they are two of Cyprus’ main tourist markets.”

Britain is the island’s largest market for tourists making up a third of its nearly 4 million arrivals in 2019, while nearby Israel is its third-biggest source.

The eastern Mediterranean island’s key tourism industry has been devastated by the pandemic and travel restrictions to control coronavirus, which saw tourist arrivals slump by over 84 per cent last year.

Britons who have received a second dose of the vaccine at least seven days before travelling are allowed entry, although random testing will be conducted at airports.

Tourists must also comply with health protocols such as mandatory mask-wearing and social distancing.

Perdios said travelling to Cyprus is subject to the British government advice on international travel, which is currently banned.

Cyprus Hotel Association director general Philokypros Rousounides told the Financial Mirror on Friday that tourists could now start making plans.

“We welcome the development, but we are cautiously optimistic. We are dealing with a pandemic that could take a turn for the worst at any time.

“At least now tour operators and tourists know what they need to do if they want a holiday break in Cyprus,” said Rousounides.

He said holiday bookings from the UK are expected to increase.

Earnings drop

Tourism contributes around 15 per cent of GDP to the Cypriot economy, but earnings plunged 85 per cent in 2020.

Although Cyprus has implemented two national lockdowns during the year-long pandemic, it has had a milder outbreak than many other European Union countries.

On Thursday, the island recorded a total of 232 coronavirus deaths and 36,004 infections.

Earlier in January, the government announced that it would be splashing out on its biggest ever digital campaign to win back lost tourists.

“If Cyprus can introduce a similar deal with Russia, then with our three largest markets back online, we have a good chance of having a tolerable season, allowing stakeholders to stay alive while building on 2021,” said Perdios.

Cyprus has introduced a colour-coded safe travel COVID-19 risk assessment scheme to win-back decimated tourist arrivals by ending quarantine rules.

It is applying a new four-tier traffic light system for visitors from 56 countries allowed entry without quarantine, after restrictions in place during March.

The government decided that British tourists would be allowed into Cyprus as of April 1, provided that Britain is categorised as a ‘green’ country.

From April 1, British nationals without a vaccine will be allowed to travel to Cyprus if they have a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of arrival.

The British government has said that international travel will be reinstated on May 17.