In an effort to kickstart its travel economy, which makes up a sizeable contribution to its economy (around 13%), the Mediterranean country of Cyprus is the latest to welcome vaccinated travelers to its shores–it will open to 65 countries, including the U.S. and U.K., from May 10 onwards.
From this date onwards, people who have proof of vaccination can enter without needing to test for Covid-19, as reported by The Telegraph.
Deputy Minister for Tourism Savvas Perdios told Reuters that “I think it’s a fantastic initiative and I think it’s very very important for people to know, that irrespective of [country risk] categorisation, if someone is fully vaccinated they no longer require tests to come to Cyprus.”
Perdios told the Cyprus News Agency that countries included are Armenia, Bahrain, Canada, Egypt, Kuwait, Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates, the U.S. and Switzerland, as reported by France24.
The country is hoping the policy will help encourage people back to Cyprus (2020 earnings from tourism are down 85% from 2019 figures). However, it is worth bearing in mind that Cyprus is suffering from high infection rates of Covid-19 at the moment–it is currently in a two-week “short sharp lockdown” to stem the rising spread (from April 26 to 9 May) with all non-essential businesses closed and a curfew running from 9pm to 5am.
Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou said “we cannot ignore the agony expressed by health professionals who have assumed the task of treating our fellow citizens in Covid wards and intensive care units.” He added, that “the health system is under immense pressure and we need to ensure that the provided health services will continue to be high level.”
The current rise is attributed to the arrival of the so-called English variant, the B.1.1.7. Covid-19 variant which the government is attempting to stall by ramping up the vaccination effort in the country–Ioannou appealed to Cypriots, saying “I once more extend an appeal to everyone to vaccinate without hesitation and delay.”
It is the U.K. however, that Cyprus must convince–British holidaymakers make up one third of all annual 4 million visitors, and it is unlikely that the U.K. government will include Cyprus on its list of safe “green” countries to which U.K. citizens can travel to on May 17–the U.K. government is expected to publish its list on Friday 7 May.