Around the end of April – beginning of May is expected, at least for the time being, the resumption of mass flights by tour operators, which will mark the official start of the tourist season for this year. This emerges from what the Deputy Minister of Tourism Savvas Perdios said yesterday, in the context of a teleconference, where he presented the work and activities of the State Department for 2020, as well as the actions for this year.
Asked about this, he admitted that the recent recommendation of the Commission to avoid travel, but also in general the bans and restrictions imposed by various countries to stop the pandemic, do not help at all to restart the tourism sector. “It is no coincidence that nothing moves in the first months of the season,” he said, noting that, due to the situation, not only are there no bookings, but there are cancellations.
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According to Mr. Perdios, the planning of the travel organizers has not been clarified yet, noting that both Tui and Jet2, while initially they would start flying (to Cyprus) at the end of February and the beginning of March, finally informed that they will not resume their program before the end of April and the beginning of May, according to at least the latest update, he added. That is why, the deputy minister added, “we all keep a small basket”. However, answering another question, he reiterated that compared to 2020, the traffic this year will be increased, noting, however, that last year was “tragic”. “Nobody knows yet how much better things will be,” he said, stressing that not even mentally the numbers this year will approach the 2019 performance.
Vaccinations and tests
The Undersecretary of Tourism reiterated that the change in the categorization of the countries from which Cyprus will receive visitors – which enters into force on March 1st – will facilitate the efforts made to improve the situation. He reiterated that the categorization is based on the tests and not on the vaccines, while when asked about it, he answered that the possibility of applying a vaccination certificate for arrivals in the country is not in the plans of the ministry. “For us, vaccination is not a condition for someone to visit Cyprus, but tests,” he said. Asked if he shares the views on vaccination of people in the tourism industry, in order for it to be used for the promotion of the country, Mr. Perdios said that the vaccination program is the responsibility of the Minister of Health. “I think it is wrong,” he said, “for anyone to advertise vaccination rates or pandemic management as an asset.”
Where will they come from
Despite the disconnection of the vaccines for the trips to Cyprus, the Undersecretary admitted that the vaccination programs of the countries from which we receive tourists will facilitate the flow of tourists. Specifically, referring to the markets from which tourists are expected this year, he noted that the State Department expects to have visits from the traditional markets of Cyprus, but also from new ones. As he said, Britain, Russia and Israel, which in 2019 had about 65% of arrivals to Cyprus, are advanced in their vaccination programs, which is expected to help travel from these countries. He also said that visits from France are expected this year, since after years of efforts the direct connection with Paris was achieved, while the same happens with the Scandinavian countries. An influx of tourists, he said, is also expected from Switzerland, Austria, the Czech Republic, Romania and the UAE. In the context of yesterday's teleconference, the Undersecretary also reiterated the triptych of this year's actions of the Undersecretariat – marketing and promotion, improvement of infrastructure and the promotion and improvement of the competitiveness of the Rural, Mountainous and Critical Areas.