Low number of arrivals dashes hopes for tourism in Cyprus

Source: Xinhua| 2020-07-21 00:38:51|Editor: huaxia

NICOSIA, July 20 (Xinhua) -- Fresh figures released by a Cypriot government official on Monday put a damper on hopes that the country's tourism industry would swiftly recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

Between June 9 (the relaxation of travel restrictions) and July 15, only 69,000 people applied for a permit to fly, and 4,000 of them were turned down, mostly because they came from countries from where incoming flights are still not allowed, Deputy Minister for Research, Innovation and Digital Policy Kyriakos Kokkinos, in charge of the Cyprus Flight Pass platform, said on Monday.

He said that only 34,000 tourists arrived in Cyprus in June and July, while the respective figure in the same two months of 2019 exceeded one million.

The completion of a Travel Card (Cyprus Flight Pass) is mandatory for all passengers intending to travel to Cyprus.

Kokkinos said that applications for a Travel Card in the past week seemed to be picking up, but he gave no details.

During the five weeks under review, more than 625,000 tourists would have visited Cyprus under normal conditions, Kokkinos said.

Tourism statistics released up to now show that between January and June 15 this year, a total of 280,000 tourists arrived in the island, or 15 percent of the 1.9 million who spent their holidays in Cyprus in the same period last year.

Reflecting on the low number of bookings, the Cyprus' Hoteliers Association said in a statement that "2020 can be written off as far as tourism is concerned, particularly in the Famagusta area, where hotels are suffering the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and the consequent travel restrictions."

It added that the messages coming from several sectors that rely on tourism to survive are not at all encouraging.

But the association said it was confident that the tourism sector will overcome its current difficulties and survive to become the pillar of the Cypriot economy once again.

Tourism contributed around 21 percent of Cyprus' gross domestic product (GDP) in 2019.

The hoteliers said that the low number of tourist arrivals is due to the fact that three major markets for Cyprus -- Britain, Russia and Sweden -- are still not included in Group A, from where travelers are not required to present a negative coronavirus test before entering the country. Enditem