While other countries have invested in health and safety measures to encourage tourists to return, Cyprus has made only minor changes to how hotels and restaurants operate.
Cyprus has historically struggled to be a medical tourism destination, and an unclear COVID-19 recovery strategy now threatens health tourism and tourism to the country.
Cyprus seems to be paying the price for its decades-long focus on the UK and Russia. Arrivals in August, expected at 200,000 which is one-third of August 2019 volumes, will be well below expectations.
Many tourists are from the UK, Sweden, Israel, Russia and Italy. Almost all health and medical tourists are from the UK, Russia and Italy.
Cyprus has divided countries into three lists, based on risk factors, which are updated every two weeks.
- Category A countries do not have to present a laboratory COVID-19 test certificate or go into self-isolation.
- Category B countries require a laboratory test at least 72 hours prior to departure and a certificate showing negative PCR examination for the virus.
- Category C countries require a negative RT-PCR test certificate for COVID-19 undertaken at least 72 hours prior to departure. All persons have to remain in a state of self-isolation for 14 days.
As of 30 July, Italy, Sweden and the UK are in Category B while Russia is in Category C and Israel is not in any category. In effect, tourists from all the main source countries are discouraged.
The economy of Cyprus is reliant on tourism, and the country has been building new high-luxury hotels in key locations. It has not however developed a strategy, or found overseas investment, for new niche tourism sectors like health and medical tourism.
The tourism ministry says it remains committed to its new 10-year strategy for developing and diversifying tourism. To date, there has been little evidence of action on the plan.