July tourism arrivals are forecast at 25% to 30% of last year’s, deputy tourism minister Savvas Perdios said on Thursday as he spoke of a “lost” and “difficult” month.
Despite signs in June there could be positive developments with the German and Israeli markets, these have not materialised, he told reporters after talks in Paphos with Mayor Phedon Phedonos.
Israel has been moved from Group A (which does not require a coronavirus free certificate) to Group B (which does), while demand from Germany, which is in Group A is below expectations. This was mainly due to a reluctance to travel and was not specific to Cyprus as many countries face a similar problem, he said.
Another development is approval by the EU of a safe list of countries from which the bloc allows non-essential travel as from July 1 excludes — until at least the next epidemiological review in a fortnight — important countries for Cyprus such as Israel, Lebanon, Russia and the Ukraine.
In addition, the fact that the UK, which is Cyprus’ biggest market has still not been included in the group of countries from which visitors can travel ‘unclassified’ for Cyprus, creates a mixture of problems for Cyprus tourism in July.
As regards August, he said the deputy ministry was continuing its efforts both as regards promotion and contacts with tour operators.
Irrespective of when tourism will start from the two main markets of Russia and the UK, it was important to continue to update tour operators who must be given the necessary time to plan and act accordingly.
Perdios expressed the hope that meetings with the epidemiological team — one is planned at the Presidential Palace tomorrow — will give some indication for the next weeks so that authorities here and partners abroad can be informed.
The deputy ministry fully respects the word of the epidemiological team and will continue to follow their advice to the letter, as in no instance will the deputy ministry put tourism above public health, he said.
A number of tour operators and airlines are refusing to continue their programmes for Cyprus even in August and September unless they know where things are likely to stand.
Replying to a question, he said everyone needed to accept that the main markets of which Cyprus tourism relies are ‘out of the picture’ for at least for two months as it would be wrong to create false impressions.
As regards local tourism, he said that there was movement over the weekends, raising hopes that July and August would be good months. A campaign is underway with the Association of Cyprus Travel Agents for mini breaks to boost domestic tourism.
Perdios also advised those interested to contact hotels direct for special offers and to explore the mini break programmes.
Mayor Phedonos said that he had received complaints of ‘alleged’ discounts at hotels which he said were minimal or non-existent. At a time particularly when people are in a worse financial state, such an approach is unlikely to lead to bookings for hotels, he added.