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Economy

COVID-19 Spike in Israel Spooks Cyprus Hotel Operators

With Cyprus still hoping to salvage something of a summer season with the end of a lockdown aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19, some hotel owners are rethinking whether to reopen after seeing a jump in cases in Israel.

That country is a key market for Cyprus but the island's health authorities elevated Israel into a higher-risk category which means tourists from there will need to be tested before arriving as well as there, The Financial Mirror said.

Hotels are set to open in July but demand is low so far, with travelers still reluctant for now to take a chance on getting the virus on airplanes or in another country although Cyprus said it would pay the cost for anyone who contracts COVID-19 while there.

“Hoteliers are thinking twice over opening their units in July because there are no reservations. Tourists from Israel will only be coming for a three or four-day holiday,” the Chairman of the Cyprus Hoteliers Association’s (CHA) Famagusta branch, Doros Takas, told the news site.

Cypriot officials said decisions about whom to let in are based on the epidemiological data which for now has also excluded the major markets of Russia and the United Kingdom, the island's former Colonial ruler, which still has military bases there.

Deputy Tourism Minister Savvas Perdios said he expected those prohibitions to be lifted in mid-July as the government is eager for tourism cash from its major revenue provider to boost the economy dragged down by a long lockdown.

Around 7.4% of Cyprus' 3.4 million annual visitors stem from Israel, the news site said, with the first wave of arrivals limited to people who have tested COVID-19 free from a few countries including Germany, Israel and Greece. 

“If the situation is not reversed with flights resuming as usual (without passengers required to carry a health certificate), then hotels in Ayia Napa will not be opening before 10 July," owner of Adams Beach Hotel and Adams Beach Hotel Deluxe, Christos Kitazos, told Stockwatch, the site added.

“If it is below 30% it means that hoteliers will suffer losses, 2020 is one of the most difficult years for the industry,” he said.

The next fear is those from the UK, where the virus spun out of control when Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who contracted the virus and struggled to survive it, avoided a lockdown and kept schools open too.

Cyprus is expected to soon lift the ban on UK travelers, Perdios said earlier in June but British expatriates living on Cyprus don't want them, worried they will bring a revival of the dreaded disease to them.

Margaret Joyday posted on Facebook: “Not yet please – we are safe here!”

Mark Brookes-Duncan said: “If they do [allow UK arrivals] it could easily ruin all the good work,” the British newspaper The Sun wrote, adding that another, Santie Epstein wrote: “No ways! Far too early!”

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