COVID19: Tighter rules trigger holiday cancellations

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Cyprus’ decision to tighten measures at airports due to the spread of Omicron has seen holiday booking cancellations from the UK, said the island’s tourism boss.

In comments to Phileleftheros daily, Deputy Minister of Tourism Savvas Perdios confirmed that measures have put off some tourists from coming to Cyprus for a winter escape, with cancellations pouring in.

Since 6 December, all arrivals to the island must undergo a PCR test at their own expense (€15).

Cyprus has also toughened COVID-19 screening for all travellers from the UK over age 12, including requiring them to quarantine until results from airport PCR tests are known.

Perdios confirmed the majority of cancellations were from the UK, noting, however, that the tightening of measures would inevitably lead to other foreign tourists not coming.

“We may think that this is no big deal as we are already in the low season.

“Not so, Cyprus tourism is very much alive in the winter months, and of course, there are people who had made reservations and hotels that would have good occupancy rates,” said Perdios.

The minister, however, expressed confidence that the situation would be short-lived.

He argued the restrictions would be temporary, stressing the need to convince partners abroad that this is the case.

“We need to send out the message that we know what we are doing, and we will be ready for 2022”.

Perdios said Cyprus needs to develop a COVID protocol for tourist arrivals for next season so that partners can include the island in their packages.

“Omicron is out of control abroad, and we need to obtain more information over the variant, but what we need is everyone to be on the same page when it comes to a protocol for Cyprus as a tourist destination.”

UK arrivals

As with all other arrivals, passengers from the UK must undergo a PCR test upon their arrival.

Until the PCR result, people arriving from the UK must remain in self-isolation in their place of residence.

In case of a positive result, they remain strictly in self-isolation and await instructions from the Unit of Epidemiological Surveillance & Control of Infectious Diseases.

Passengers from the UK will also be given a kit with five self-tests, with instructions to take one every day and inform their GP if they have one.

If not, they are instructed to contact the health ministry via email [email protected].

They will also have to take a free rapid test following 72 hours from their arrival to the island.