Summer called off, as Britons unlikely to arrive

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Cyprus tourism will have a tight window of two months to claw back losses of yet another disastrous year blighted by coronavirus, as British tourists are told to stay away.

On Thursday, UK authorities decided not to add Cyprus to its safe list, despite a last-minute pitch from Tourism Minister Savvas Perdios to convince the British government that Cyprus deserved to be on it.

With the holiday island is stuck on amber, it’s unlikely to see any tourists from Cyprus’ main market.

Tourism stakeholders worried that much of the season is lost, having only the end of July and August to generate income.

The Association of Cyprus Travel Agents is disappointed but called on authorities to do what they can to push COVID-19 cases further down.

“We need to do everything humanly possible to make sure that we find ourselves on the UK green list,” said ACTA’s spokesperson Charis Papacharalambous.

He said that Cyprus tourism is one step before the cliff edge, as at best, the island can expect to see Britons arrive in late July, early August.

As things stand, the majority of Britons will not even consider Cyprus for a summer getaway, as the cost of repetitive tests and having to spend 10 days self-isolation upon their return is simply not worth it.

Papacharalambous argued that one of the reasons why Cyprus is having difficulty making it on the green list is the high number of tests the authorities are carrying out.

“Although a great strategy, mass testing is simply not paying off in Cyprus as people are not isolating and not revealing their close contacts.”

He urged the government to take a political decision, in light of the vaccination rollout, which has covered over half of the adult population with one jab, to lessen tests.

“In any case, even if, fingers crossed, Cyprus makes to the UK green list, which will not happen before 28 June. Until the market heats up and people regain their trust in Cyprus, we will be well into July.”

Papacharalambous believes Cyprus will have to rely on German tourists and some arrivals from central Europe to survive.

“Unfortunately, without British tourists, there is no season.”

He said Cypriots could not close the gap left by British tourists, as they traditionally take their holiday leave in late July and August.

In a move that brought about the fierce reaction of airliners, the UK also removed Portugal, the only EU holiday destination, from its safe list.

Portugal slammed the UK’s decision to move it to the ‘amber list’ in a new blow for British holidaymakers.

The country’s foreign and tourism ministers said it’s hard to grasp the logic behind the demotion, describing it as “unfair and completely inadequate”.

Cyprus’ Deputy Ministry preferred not to comment on the outcome.

Perdios was in London on Tuesday, trying to pitch the island as a safe destination for British tourists this summer, but the UK government was unconvinced.

Perdios argued that Cyprus “absolutely deserved a spot on the green list”.

“We have made a lot of progress, especially over the last month.”

Cyprus, highly dependent on UK visitors, was the first EU nation to reopen to fully vaccinated Britons or those with a negative PCR test result.

Perdios said Cyprus was one of the few countries in Europe that have been so open to the UK regarding travelling in the pandemic.

He is in Moscow from Saturday, where he will try to tick off the next item on his agenda to convince Russian authorities to allow chartered flights to Cyprus.

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.

British tourists made up one-third of all tourist arrivals in pre-COVID 2019, with Russia Cyprus’ second-largest market.