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UK Travel Restrictions Cut Deep into Cyprus’ Tourism Goals

ΝICOSIA — Cyprus' hopes for a tourism rebound to offset lockdown losses caused by COVID-19 hit a speed bump with its biggest market – the United Kingdom – still not letting anyone travel for some time.

The lingering pandemic is keeps Brits home although it's easing due to vaccination programs and international air traffic is picking up and cruise ships at back on the seas and Cyprus a major port of call.

Cyprus allows tourists who are vaccinated or free of the Coronavirus although they must abide by continuing health measures at the same time the government wants to ease them to lure more people who don't want to be confined.

The Deputy Tourism Ministry said that testing before and upon arrival would be sufficient for monitoring foreign visitors during their visit without needing a Safe Pass, said The Financial Mirror.

Noel Josephides of the UK-based Sunvil Travel and former Chairman of the Association of Independent Tour Operators (AITO) said Cyprus will not be seeing many tourists from its top market.

“The only hope for things to turn around is if the UK government, on the advice of its epidemiological experts, give the green light to put Cyprus in the green category next week,” said Josephides.

“If Cyprus makes the cut by then, the season could be saved. Otherwise, the next time Cyprus could make the green list will be after three weeks, on 9 June when the government is set to revise the list once more,” he added.

But he said most Britons are likely to shun Cyprus for summer holidays because the cost of repetitive tests and having to spend 10 days in quarantine upon their return is simply not worth it.

Josephides said his agency had zero bookings for Cyprus, as people are concerned over UK requirements once they return that could see them quarantined both ways in two-way travel.

Cyprus could be on Britain’s safe list by early to late June, Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos said, telling Politis that bookings will pick up as the country reaches out to foreign travelers.

“We’ve already seen an important increase in the number of flights scheduled, it’s about 200 hundred this week, this will rise to about 500 in June and by August this will increase to 700 a week,” Karousos said.

“There is tourism, and anyone who has been to Ayia Napa in the past few days can confirm this for themselves,” he also said.

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