Snubbed by tour operators because of a Covid-19 test requirement for visitors from Group B countries, Cyprus has to revise its tourism model from tour operated to independent travellers, Demetra Landau reports for Phileleftheros.
Cyprus has traditionally relied on organised tourism. Its three biggest markets — the UK, Russia and Israel — are currently excluded from the list of countries that can send tourists to Cyprus.
The UK is due to be included in Group B from August 1, but this means that unlike visitors from Group A, arrivals must show they have tested negative for coronavirus, no later than 72 hours before departure.
The picture for the summer so far is bleak. July will go down as a ‘lost’ month, with indications that August will follow suit.
Cyprus had hoped to attract Israeli visitors in July and Britons and Russians later, but the epidemiological situation in the three countries has quashed expectations.
Israel and Russia are not currently included in the list of countries that can send tourists to Cyprus.
At the same time, tour operators have made clear that as long as a coronavirus test is required (for group B countries), they will not include Cyprus in their packages.
Perdios said that the deputy minister had explored the possibility of facilitating the test-taking at better prices in the UK, for example, but this turned out to be complicated.
Tour operators were not prepared to facilitate this process. According to Perdios, it is not so much the price of the test but the test itself that they do not agree with.
“Tour operators have made clear they have no intention of including the country in their programme — irrespective of the country – where there is a requirement for the test,” he said.
“It is not just the UK we are concerned about. Other markets have difficulties. The data shows that carrying out the test in advance acts as a hindrance to them coming to Cyprus,” Perdios said.
Cyprus can work with tour operators who operate in countries in Group a such as Austria, Germany and Switzerland. Finland and Denmark are marketed for independent travellers; he told Landau.
Figures show that in the first week of July, Cyprus welcomed 2000 Germans and 2000 Swiss.
“The problem is that the countries with which we worked with organised tourism are not available and we will have to turn to independent tourism.
This is a complete change in our tourist model, and it is difficult,” deputy tourism minister Savvas Perdios told Phileleftheros.
“We are chasing markets which are not ready for Cyprus tourism,” he said and noted that the deputy minister’s digital campaign was going well, with visits to the site up by four or five times over the previous year — something positive for the future.