NICOSIA – Even before the first two cases of the dreaded Coronavirus were confirmed, the setting up of quarantine centers and fears it could spread had rocked the island’s critical tourism for March, with worries it could extend into the high season.
Cypriot hotel owners and Bank of Cyprus officials met to try to figure out a way to lessen the shock to the economy with tourism having been a key revenue driver to pull the country back into recovery after a banking crisis.
The spillover could likely hit the airline industry too, ratcheting up concerns that tourists will cancel current bookings or not make any if the virus gets any worse, potentially cutting deep into the critical summer period.
“The two sides agreed that we obviously cannot change the developments that are taking place on an external, international scale but we must take steps to reduce the shocks in the Cypriot economy,” Haris Loizides, President of the Cyprus Hotel Association told The Cyprus Mail.
“It was agreed that we must act proactively and not allow panic to prevail,” he said, without saying how that could be done with airlines already showing the effect and Virgin Atlantic reporting flying near-empty planes on its routes around the world.
Loizides met with Bank of Cyprus CEO Panicos Nicolaou and other members of the bank’s leadership responsible for marketing, international business and foreign exchange and said March was a near wipe-out and had been already written off.
“We have to say that serious issues started to emerge for the month of March, and we think the month does not have any serious chance of recovering,” said Loizides.
“April also seems to be quite muted for reservations. We are waiting to see how coronavirus situation will unfold after the end of March,” he said.
He said he hoped the advent of warmer weather and end of the flu season would lessen or end the virus and help spur a rebound but admitted the outlook for the summer is up in the air for now.
Asked about Easter bookings, Loizides declined to cite any figures, saying he didn’t want to predict how much bookings might be reduced or by how much. “As the temperature rises, we feel more optimistic that Cyprus will withstand this crisis,” Loizides added, the paper said.
“Panic in such cases is not a good ally but precautionary measures are necessary. Let’s have a little patience and focus on our work, which is prevention. We must constantly take precautionary measures to be able to deal with the escalation of this crisis successfully,” he also said.