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Tourism Minister sells Cyprus in London, Moscow tour

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Tourism Minister Savvas Perdios is on tour to persuade London and Moscow to put Cyprus on their safe travel lists, allowing tourists from its two major markets to plan a summer getaway.

Pre-Covid-19, over 53% of Cyprus’ 3.97 million tourist arrivals in 2019 came from the UK (33.5%) and Russia (19.7%).

Perdios travelled to London on Tuesday, where he met with UK officials to convince London to place Cyprus on its green list.

Cyprus is currently on the amber list, which forces travellers returning to the UK to quarantine at home for 10 days and to take two Covid-19 tests.

Perdios visits Moscow on Saturday in an attempt to restart charter flights from Russia, which were halted after Cyprus’ epidemiological data broke new records.

“We will be aiming to convince authorities to allow for the restart of chartered flights.”

Covid cases peaked at 941 daily cases in April, triggering a two-week emergency lockdown on 26 April.

Cyprus has since pushed daily infections down to double digits and has not reported a death for four days.

Cyprus was the first EU nation to reopen to fully-vaccinated Britons or a negative PCR test result.

Perdios is attempting to secure a spot on the exclusive green list for the 7 June update, if not for the following on 28 June.

Cyprus reopened to Britons last month yet failed to be green listed by the UK Government on 7 May.

Given the island’s low infection rate – currently sitting at 36.95 per 100,000, on par with green-listed Portugal (35.58) and the UK (34.5) – Mr Perdios may have cause for optimism in the coming weeks. It will, of course, need to meet the other criteria, including a strong vaccination rollout.

Speaking to the Cyprus News Agency (CNA), Perdios said his meetings in the British capital were timed to coincide with authorities reevaluating the UK’s safe travel list.

“That’s why we opted to brief our partners directly over the improvement of Cyprus’ epidemiological image.”

Perdios said he briefed officials on the improved daily test positivity rate, which stood at 0.11% on Sunday, coupled with the reproduction rate (R) approximately at 0.5%.

“The test positivity rate and the R rate are quite lower than the respective British indices.”

Cyprus has been sending weekly Covid updates to the British authorities during its charm offensive.

He said health authorities carry out more than a million tests a fortnight, more than the island’s population.

British officials were told that more than half of the island’s population had received at least one dose of an EU-approved COVID-19 jab while aiming to reach 65% herd immunity by the end of June.

“Many young people across all sectors of the economy and not just the tourism sector have been vaccinated.”

As the Indian variant is the main concern in Britain, the minister said Cyprus had a few cases detected at airports and immediately quarantined.

Perdios said Cyprus does not accept flights from countries with variants of concern, such as India, South Africa and Brazil and has no intention of doing so in the immediate future.

On Wednesday, Perdios travelled to Athens to attend the UN World Tourism Organisation conference.

During the past 15 months, Cyprus recorded 72,515 cases of COVID-19 and 360 deaths.