COVID19: Cyprus tourism dependent on vaccinations

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Cyprus’ chances for a decent tourist season depends on the level of herd immunity reached on the island, said Tourism Minister Savvas Perdios.

After getting his AstraZeneca jab with the rest of the Cabinet, Perdios told reporters Thursday rebuilding the tourism sector depends on the vaccination rollout’s success.

“It is essential and generally understood that the road to returning to normalcy goes through vaccines; I believe that all vaccines are equally good in doing what they were made for,” said Perdios.

He argued that people should be motivated by their desire to return to normalcy when deciding whether to get vaccinated.

“It is self-evident the more people are vaccinated in Cyprus, the more immunity we will have and the greater the chances our country will do better this year in terms of tourist arrivals.”

Perdios added that Cyprus’ overseas partners constantly ask about the island’s epidemiological picture, how many tests are carried out, the positivity rate, and how many people will have been vaccinated by the summer.

He said it was difficult to predict tourist arrivals that slumped by 85% last year.

“Unfortunately, data changes so often that it is impossible to make a prediction.

“Things are fragile, and some countries could go back into lockdown, affecting the schedules of airliners and tour operators.

“It is therefore too risky to predict the outcome of the year.”

A Deputy Ministry of Tourism source confirmed to the Financial Mirror that European Union leaders moved closer on Thursday to an agreement on certificates for citizens who have been vaccinated.

A move that could go a long way in reviving international travel and save this summer’s holiday season.

Thirteen EU countries, including Cyprus and Greece, have campaigned for the European Commission to ratify the introduction of ‘Green passports’ for vaccinated tourists to reboot travel within the bloc.

Spain, Austria, and Bulgaria also support a common EU approach.

Vienna says it will implement its own plan if there is no agreement at the EU level by the spring.

“If approved, green passports will be for EU citizens to use when travelling within the EU. Member states are negotiating their own deals with third countries as we did with Israel and the UK.”

Countries backing green passports argue its introduction should be achieved through a safe and user-friendly technical solution.

The green passport would indicate if someone has been vaccinated, recovered, or tested negative for COVID-19 by scanning a single QR code.

“This should be implemented in a simple and user-friendly way at a European level,” said the source.