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Finance Chief Says Cyprus Tourism Will Come Back from COVID-19

Αssociated Press

A woman, right, wearing a mask to protect against coronavirus, walks past others sitting on a bench at Elephtherias, Liberty, square in central capital Nicosia, Cyprus, Wednesday, June 3, 2020. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

NICOSIA -- With a lockdown put in place to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 Coronavirus winding down, Finance Minister Constantinos Petrides said there won't be a tourism disastrous year as was expected, confident visitors will come.

In an interview with CNBC International, Petrides said Cyprus was “almost a pandemic-free country” after managing to contain the spread of the coronavirus with a quick and stringent closing of non-essential businesses.

He said his government was “quite optimistic” regarding Cyprus as a safe travel destination this summer for European tourists, citing incentives and state-wide medical preparedness as well as last week’s announcement by Wizz Air to add Larnaca as a base for seven new country destinations.

But he cautioned that the European Union, which was slow to react and offer aid to countries, has to do more to make sure there is an economic recovery that the 27-member bloc needs, especially countries that rely on tourism.

“Definitely it is a symmetric shock for Europe, and the EU needs to ensure that this symmetric shock does not turn out to be an asymmetric recovery,” Petrides said.

The European Commission plan is to to borrow 750 billion euros ($839.83 billion) from capital markets starting next year to offset the ongoing economic effects of the devastating pandemic.

Cypriot scientists advising the government have given the go-ahead for further relaxing of the lockdown measures while heath officials on the northern third occupied by Turkey since an unlawful 1974 invasion are being more cautious, fearing resurgence.

The Cypriot government said epidemiological data supports reopening of businesses and the tourist sector, including tourist arrivals next week from list of selected countries based on specific criteria in place.