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Economy

Rocked by COVID-19, Cyprus Has No Backup Plan for Tourism

July 27, 2020

Cyprus' reliance on tourism has shown an economic weakness during the COVID-19 pandemic and lifting of a lockdown in hopes of getting people to come – which they aren't – resort areas already writing off the summer.

Even having one of the world's safest records in holding down the number of cases and fatalities hasn't persuaded tourists to come in the numbers hoped for, further undercutting an economy faltering under the effect of the lockdown.

Cyprus does not have enough time to save the tourist season which essentially ends in August, as the island has yet to see investments in other forms of tourism which could prolong the season, The Financial Mirror said.

“The Coronavirus outbreak, better yet, the aftermath has proven to us that we should have been investing in alternative tourism products, rather than just relying on the beach and sun to draw in holiday-makers,” Fanos Tekelas, UCLAN Cyprus lecturer in Innovation and Entrepreneurship told the site.

He said relying on sun and sand and beaches revealed a weak link in the country's economic base that hasn't been corrected, and with hoteliers saying signs are showing people won't be coming in August either, just as they didn't in July.

“Britons will have a hard time booking a holiday package as British tour operators notified Cyprus that they cannot include the island in their schedules if the country insists on asking tourists to carry a negative test for Covid-19 as a requirement to enter,” he said, that leaving out a key market.

Tekelas said that Cyprus has been focusing on the birth of new high-luxury hotels in key locations with little emphasis given on enhancing other products such as sports tourism. “While in September Cyprus still offers tourists a sunny destination, after that pretty everything closes down,” he said, with no year-round products offered.

“We have not invested enough in other forms of tourism like agritourism, religious, sports and medical tourism to be able to attract more tourists in the not so warm months of the year,” said Tekelas.

He said there should be agritourism and sports tourism among other attractions to get people to come during seasons other than summer.

The Tourism inistry said it remains committed to its 10-year strategy for developing and diversifying tourism, as announced shortly before the coronavirus outbreak in Cyprus, too late for this year, with numbers showing an 80 percent drop in tourists.

Vasilis Stamataris, President of the Association of Cyprus Travel Agents told the site his members are looking to engage in other forms of tourism, rather than just offering sun and sea packages.

“Cyprus is at the crossroads of three continents and we need to take advantage of its location by offering different quality services, focusing on the development of business, sport and winter tourism in general,” said Stamataris.

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