NEWS

Cyprus weighs risks of luring back tourists

TAGS: Cyprus, Travel, Tourism, Coronavirus

The introduction of Britain and Russia into one of the categories that would allow tourists to visit Cyprus is not on the agenda according to Kathimerini Cyprus sources, with hoteliers waging a battle to assume part of the risk and scientists appearing unconvinced ahead of an upcoming meeting at the Presidential Palace.

Just two weeks ahead of a penciled in date for Cyprus opening up to British tourist arrivals, scientists on the government’s epidemiological task force are scheduled to meet with President Nicos Anastasiades on Friday to discuss the situation on the island and assess efforts for the containment of coronavirus among arriving passengers.

Sources have told Kathimerini Cyprus that the country's opening up to Britain and Russia was neither on the agenda for this coming Friday’s meeting nor has it been a topic of discussion among members of the health team.

Petros Karayiannis, a microbiology professor on the government’s coronavirus task force, told Kathimerini Cyprus the team has not been asked to examine the situation regarding the two countries.

But the Cyprus Hoteliers Association (CHA) says it has been talking to its members about Britain and Russia.

In a recent interview with the newspaper, CHA president Haris Loizides said association members were willing to take up the cost for molecular rapid tests, adding that the ultimate goal was to cultivate a sense of security among local citizens who might be worried about a second wave.

Earlier this summer, the Republic of Cyprus made global headlines when the government launched a campaign telling tourist agents the country was willing to pay for costs in case any tourists contracted the virus while vacationing on the island.

The discussion set to unfold on Friday comes just two weeks ahead of a penciled in date around July 15 for re-opening airports to British tourists, a timeframe that was described as “very reasonable” by Cypriot Deputy Tourism Minister Savvas Perdios.

But CHA has been asking for specific dates regarding tourist arrivals from the United Kingdom, in order to plan accordingly and roll out special summer deals.

Perdios had previously said that governments did not have the luxury for long-term planning as data changed from week to week.

But according to Kathimerini Cyprus’ Yiannos Lytras, the health ministry is not willing to take additional risks associated with opening up to arriving tourists from either of the two countries, adding that Russia was out of the question while Britain could make it into the high-risk second category.

Under category B, all tourists flying to the Republic of Cyprus would need to have a PCR test done 72 hours prior to landing on the island.

A number of countries in low-risk Category A are expected to be bumped down, including Switzerland that could land in category B due to a rise of known confirmed cases in that country. Bulgaria was downgraded last week after arriving passengers from that country tested positive.

Germany, a country that has become a target by tourism officials due to the pandemic, is also facing issues. However, Karayiannis said there may not be a downgrade in this case as the situation in the Federal Republic appeared to be manageable.

[Kathimerini Cyprus]

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