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In Fighting COVID-19, Cypriot Politicians Listened to Experts

Cyprus is still counting on some kind of tourism season for 2020 when the lockdown aimed at preventing the spread of the COVID-19 Coronavirus lifts and international air traffic sputters back, amid dire forecasts of a loss of 1.5 billion euros ($1.62 billion.)

The quick lockdown worked to limit the spread of the disease and bring some hope that people would still be willing to travel this summer to the island’s beaches and resorts that are the biggest money-maker.

Cyprus Deputy Ministry of Tourism said a revival could begin in July, said The Financial Mirror, although acknowledging it could be a tough draw to convince wary people to travel, especially it airliners limit how many passengers could be on board.

Cyprus is already campaigning in neighboring countries, especially those which have also dealt relatively well with the deadly virus, with the world’s economy at stake and governments trying to balance that with public health interests and save lives.

Tourism Minister Savvas Perdios said the sector will lose some 60 percent of its booking that will be canceled and told CyBC state radio he believes there will be a gradual return of visitors this summer with some eager to travel after being pent up.

But he said the key markets, Britain, and Russia, from which Cyprus receives the largest share of tourists, they will open at a later stage. “We hope to know in a few weeks when tourists will be able to come from these countries,” he said.

“The important thing is that travel agent have Cyprus in mind…there are positive signs from Germany, Switzerland, Austria, the Nordic countries, Greece, Israel and perhaps the Netherlands,” he added.

Cyprus will also pitch the country for autumn and winter visits through April, 2021 and hope for more domestic tourism although that accounts for only six percent in the hard-hit industry.

A bill is being prepared to allow hoteliers and tour operators to issue state-backed vouchers to clients who were forced to cancel their Cyprus trip and travel agents were said to be cautiously optimistic of re-booking groups although that could be limited under social distancing guidelines likely to continue after lockdowns.

Cyprus travel agents are also optimistic that a part of the season can be salvaged as the majority of bookings for late summer have yet to be cancelled.

The Association of Cyprus Travel Agents (ACTA Chairman Vassilis Stamataris, told The Financial Mirror his group wants to persuade tour operators and tourists who canceled trips to change their minds and re-book toward the end of summer.

“We are in constant contact with tour operators trying to piece together the picture we have before us regarding bookings while trying to save bookings by rescheduling them for later on in the year,” said Stamataris.

He said the emphasis is on Greece which also hopes for a combination of domestic and international tourism.

“The spread of the virus in Greece is at similar levels with Cyprus, with the two countries being good examples of countries who are bringing the virus under control,” said Stamataris.

Hotel owners are less sanguine as they would have to adopt strict hygiene guidelines that could be costly and limit visitations.

Angelos Loizou, special advisor for the Association of Cyprus Tourist Enterprises (ACTE) told the news site that hoteliers know big changes are coming and that they will have to adapt and convince travelers the facilities that get mass traffic are safe.

“All stakeholders will need to pull together to make sure that protocols and measures are preserved at airports, hotels and other tourist enterprises,” said Loizou.“Authorities will have the final say from where tourists will come from and under which conditions, i.e. whether they will have to have a health certificate or a test upon arrival,” he added.

“Hotels opting to open this season should focus on attracting Cypriots, as this will benefit them in two ways. One they will be able to keep their businesses running to some extent, and two, they can take advantage of the opportunity to ‘test drive’ how their hotels cope under the new conditions,” he said.

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