As I write, Cyprus is, mostly, out of lockdown. In terms of day to day life, there are very few restrictions. However, restrictions remain for visitors coming here.
Countries are in one of the three categories. A, B and C (everyone else). A is countries where Covid-19 is deemed to be under control, and people may enter freely. B is countries where people must produce written evidence of a negative test, completed within 72 hours of boarding the flight. C, no flights.
The main tourist markets for Cyprus are the UK and Russia. UK is currently C, but will be B from August 1st. Russia is category C.
The great hope for tourism revenue was that from next month, legions of Brits would flood in and spend money, giving the economy a shot in the arm. Negotiations began with the larger tour operators.
Negotiations appear to have gone as follows:
Tour Operators (TO): About these tests…
Cyprus Government (CG): Yes?
TO: Do you need them?
CG: Of course, we have been very successful in suppressing the virus, and we don’t want to let up now.
TO: Thing is, tests are a bit of a pain.
CG: Hmmm..perhaps we can help. What’s the difficulty?
TO: Tests in UK are limited to those people showing symptoms, elective testing has to be done privately at a cost.
CG: Well, we have been talking to the hotels here, about funding…
TO: Sorry to cut in – but it’s also difficult to get tests guaranteed within the 72 hours
CG: Perhaps we could find away to perform the tests on arrival…
TO: Sorry to cut in again. Look. Let us be direct. Spain doesn’t need a test. Greece doesn’t need a test.
CG: True, but…
TO: Will you drop the test?
CG: After a period of review, it is of course possible that…
TO: Will you drop the test NOW?
CG: As we explained, as things currently stand…
TO: We’re not coming.
I am summarising, I daresay that many more words were used to arrive at the same impasse.
The Tour Operators have troubles of their own, and I imagine are desperate to rescue as much revenue as they can from a much curtailed season. If that revenue is from Spain or Cyprus matters little. Tests is one more headache. I guess I see where they are coming from.
The Cyprus Government position is horrible. The economy is haemorrhaging money and the tourist sector is crying out for help. On the other hand, Covid is no joke, and importing a second wave in the name of commerce will come across as cruel.
I’m sure that in the background, talks are taking place to find the quickest way to open the market and maintain virus-limiting measures.
In the meantime – residents are, for the first time in decades, reclaiming the beaches and tourist hot-spots.
Talking of which – I’m off to a mountain-spa.😁