UK travel rethink rekindles Cyprus hopes

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Cyprus’ hopes of salvaging a blighted coronavirus summer have been rekindled, as UK government officials and Tory MPs campaign to convince Prime Minister Boris Johnson to lift travel restrictions for fully vaccinated Britons.

Cyprus tourism was on a cliff edge earlier this week when Boris Johnson delayed plans to unlock the UK by almost a month.

But government officials and members of the ruling conservative party are said to be lobbying Prime Minister to allow fully vaccinated Britons to book a summer getaway.

The island remains off-limits for British tourists, as the UK has pushed back the much-anticipated step of allowing foreign travel for Britons to 19 July because of the rapid spread of the more infectious Delta (Indian) variant.

Britain was expected to lift travel restrictions on 21 June.

According to the Daily Telegraph, a campaign to sway Johnson’s opinion is gaining ground. If successful, fully vaccinated Britons will be able to travel to amber countries such as Cyprus.

The Daily Telegraph says that a proposal has been tabled before Health Minister Matt Hancock who appears to be “open to suggestions”.

Government sources told the paper: “Taking into consideration the strategic rationale and success of the vaccination program, we are rethinking the role of vaccinations in shaping a different set of health measures and tests for inbound travel.”

It said the government would be evaluating the proposal before 28 June, when it is due to release a revaluation of the country’s safe travel advisory.

Britons wanting to go on holiday can choose only from a mere 11 countries and territories on the UK’s safer green list. European destinations only include Iceland and Gibraltar.

Some 30.4 million Britons have been fully vaccinated, or 57.8% of the population. An 80% of the population has received at least one dose.

The island has already seen income from tourism in 2020 slashed by 84%.

Pre-Covid-19, over 33% of Cyprus’ record 3.97 million tourist arrivals in 2019 came from the UK (1.4 mln).

A government spokesperson told Sky News that it is “working with industry for a safe return to international travel, guided by one overwhelming priority – public health”.

Jesse Norman, the financial secretary to the Treasury, said the government was “certainly looking at all the options here”.

He told Sky News: “We don’t want to get left behind by countries which may be adopting a two jabs approach if it can be done safely and if it can be done carefully and securely.”