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Cyprus Expects Post-COVID-19 Big August Arrivals of 600,000 Tourists

Αssociated Press

Παραλία Αγία Νάπα Λάντα. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias, FILE)

Cyprus is pinning its hopes that tourists will come this summer when the lockdown aimed at preventing the spread of the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic is lifted, counting on people taking a chance on traveling and that airlines will resume full service.

The country expects to get some 600,000 passengers in August, Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos said, but that it’s dependent on people flying in on commercial and private planes. That would be a jump over the 553,845 who came during a big 2019 August.

Speaking from Larnaca Aiport, Karousos said, “We are initiating efforts to restore our country’s connectivity in the best possible way,” noting that a deal has been reached with Hungarian low-cost airline WIZZ AIR to form a base at the airport.

“Initially, there will be two aircrafts, with the number to increase at a later stage, while 11 more flights toward 11 airports and seven countries will boost current routes,” Karousos said, reported Kathimerini Cyprus.

“The benefits for Cyprus are very important, in terms of both tourism and the economy, as jobs will be created,” Karousos said, adding that the company said its intentions are not to take away clients of its competitors but to create additional passenger flows.

The airline’s base in Laranaca Airport will serve to boost connectivity with countries and destinations that Cyprus did not enjoy in the past, said Karousos, who added that there are talks with other major airlines to add flights and routes although the industry is in the midst of a major crisis because of lockdowns and some are already nearing bankruptcy.

Karousos said, noting that “we are kicking off on June 9, and by June 20 passengers from a number of countries won’t need to present a certificate (for coronavirus,)” he said, with strict health protocols being required at hotels and other tourist activities.

Cyprus to begin with will only allow tourists from other countries that have similarly good records in holding down the number of cases and fatalities and then could add more, with no explanation for the optimism given the staggered arrival scheme.

Asked about whether Cyprus has received any responses to the letter sent outy to foreign governments, airlines and tour operators outlining strict health and hygiene protocols that the government is enacting to woo visitors to the tourism-reliant country, Perdios said several teleconferences are expected to follow.

“We’re optimistic that countries abroad are talking about Cyprus, as foreign news outlets have ... been talking about the island, and particularly about what it has achieved and how it will deal with any potential difficult situations that may arise.”

The Cypriot government promised it would cover the cost of quarantining tourists who contract the virus, including lodging, food, drink and medication for COVID-19 patients and their families in a bid to assuage fears.