Hoteliers are keeping their fingers crossed the Omicron variant will not hamper the island’s expected tourism recovery in 2022.
Cyprus tourism stakeholders have placed their bets on a revival next summer, but so far, the emergence of the latest COVID-19 variant has put bookings on ice.
In comments to the news website, Stockwatch, the director-general of the Cyprus Hotel Association Philokypros Roussounides, said hoteliers are on the edge of their seats as they watch Omicron rip through Europe.
“Omicron emerged just as we began to see the light at the end of the tunnel, fueling our hopes for a better tourist season in 2022.
“Now we are pinning our hopes on the new government measures to stem the spread of the new variant.
“We could easily see a worsening of epidemiological data and find ourselves out of the competition,” said Roussounides.
He said industry stakeholders monitor the situation, hoping the new variant will be contained, as it has already taken a toll on bookings.
Unvaccinated Cypriots also had to cancel their winter getaways at a hotel.
“Restrictions enhance the feeling of insecurity amongst possible travellers from abroad and local tourists, but, on the other hand, without measures, we could see epidemiological data worsen, endangering the whole of 2022”.
Association of Cyprus Tourism Enterprises (STEK), general manager Chrisemily Psilogeni said hoteliers are optimistic that “despite cancellations from Cypriots and tourists from abroad, 2022 will be a better season than 2021.
“People are hungry to travel after two years of restrictions”.
Psilogeni said there was also concern over the threat of labour shortages.
She said labour shortages could prove more catastrophic for the sector than COVID.
“Cypriot hotel workers, due to the restrictive measures and lockdowns, preferred to seek employment in other services while a large number of staff from EU countries chose to return home, where they found employment.
“It is not simply a matter of finding workers, but also training them, which could take months.
“If this issue is not resolved soon, then we are in danger of losing all that we have built over the years.
“We could lose the reputation we have built for the island providing quality services to demanding customers.”
A mixture of national lockdowns, quarantine and travel restrictions has decimated the island’s tourism industry which generated €2.68 bln in 2019 on record 3.97 million tourist arrivals.
In the 11 months to November, tourists visiting Cyprus jumped 195.9%, recording an increase of 1.21 million arrivals, compared to 2020 when covid-19 travel restrictions were worse.
However, compared to January – November 2019, there was a decrease of 52.4% when a record 3,866,447 visitors came pre-coronavirus.
Tourist revenues and arrivals in 2020 plunged by 85%.
Pre-COVID, over 53% of Cyprus’ four million tourists in 2019 came from the UK (33.5%) and Russia (19.7%).