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COVID19: Omicron shatters hotel festive season stays

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Omicron has shattered Hoteliers hopes to see their establishments fill up over the holiday season, as Cypriots were pushed to cancel their bookings as COVID-19 cases skyrocketed.

Hoteliers say that hotels that opted to remain open during the winter relied on Cypriots who wanted a holiday escape, taking advantage of a state-sponsored scheme.

In comments to the Cyprus News Agency (CNA), the Cyprus Hotel Association’s Director General Philokypros Roussounides said that hotel occupancy rates were 50% over the Christmas and New Year holidays.

However, just one out of five hotels were open.

“Unfortunately, due to the deterioration of the island’s epidemiological picture, some people had second thoughts, cancelling their holidays,” said Roussounides.

He noted that customer traffic was low for the season, concentrated mainly in the mountains and rural areas, and some coastal units, in Limassol and Paphos.

Occupancy rates in mountain resorts touched 70%.

Stakeholders do not anticipate tourism from abroad to pick up in the short term, as the Omicron variant has revived insecurity among the public.

The Cyprus Hoteliers Association will be evaluating the situation daily, hoping that if the restrictive measures pay off, planning for 2022 can begin.

Roussounides said last year could be split into two parts.

“The first six months, which were a continuation of a disastrous 2020, with minimum arrivals, and the second half of the year where we had a significant increase.”

Tourists arrivals were around 50% compared to the record 4 million in pre-COVID 2019.

“The second half of the year has made us optimistic, that it could be the start of the industry’s recovery. Full recovery should not be expected within the next three to four years, though,” said Roussounides.

Paphos CHA chair Thanos Michaelides said that hotel occupancy rates in the coastal town were 30% during Christmas.

Michaelides stated that occupancy of hotels in Paphos during January would average 20%, while he expressed doubts over February.

“The Omicron variant could keep arrivals at extremely low figures. As a result, we are in for an extremely difficult winter.”