It is imperative to restart the tourism sector, in order to return to normal conditions and strengthen the economy, which is suffering from the impact of the pandemic, says the Association of Cyprus Travel Agents (ACTA), while presenting a series of proposals to facilitate the industry’s rebound.
Speaking during a press conference, ACTA President Vasilis Stamataris said that the overall approach should facilitate efforts to attract tourists and minimise additional costs.
In our view, tourism is extremely important for Cyprus’ economy and should not become a victim, he added.
Tourists, he went on, have very few or no “close contacts” with the community, i.e. Cyprus residents and as a rule, they are following the rules and adhere to protocols more than anyone else when it comes to using masks or social distancing.
Stamataris also said that Cyprus tourism is suffering for years in terms of competitiveness, due to high costs. In this crucial phase we must be much more careful and it is imperative that we avoid the burden of extra costs, though decisions that in some cases lead to fewer benefits, he added.
During the press conference, ACTA President also presented a series of suggestions, which, he said, may help significantly in better managing the crisis, successfully restart the industry and help improve viability prospects.
Among others, ACTA proposes a geographical compartmentalization of Cyprus by district when it comes to epidemiological classification, so that tourist areas are not “burdened unjustly.”
We need to do whatever is necessary to protect these resorts from a potentially poor epidemiological situation in other areas, he said, adding that otherwise the financial ramifications would be “disastrous”.
He proposed, moreover, that frontline tourism employees are vaccinated as a priority while the second test required for arrivals from “red” category countries is substituted with a rapid antigen test, with the state covering the cost.
He added that there should be further restrictions to the transportation of people arriving from “green” category countries or those who have at least one negative PCR test conducted within the last 72 hours.
According to Stamataris, there is a significant gap when it comes to the protocol concerning the handling of vaccinated people after their arrival. “We cannot wait for the ‘green pass’ since there may be possible delays” while the terms “may not be satisfactory” he added. Several European countries move on with their own measures and Cyprus should do the same, he said.
The President of ACTA also said that extending government guarantees will afford more protection to consumers who may not be able to travel soon.
He went on to propose further measures, to boost the sector’s competitiveness through VAT reductions and loans, among others.
The tourist season has already started and several countries are preparing, by taking the necessary measures to tackle the pandemic, adhere to basic rules, search for solutions and come up with innovative regulations while undertaking various initiatives, and “we ought to do the same” he concluded.