In a boost to 2020 sunshine holiday hopes, European governments have started making arrangements to reopen for the summer season and welcome tourists again. Last week Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal, Slovenia and Spain all discussed a set of rules in how to allow cross-border travel. A few days later, Greece confirmed that June would see the restart of its tourism season.
Cyprus and Malta, in particular, rely on Tourism, with both Governments keen to see incoming charter flights. With an estimated 15% of their GDP coming from foreign sun-seekers, Cyprus has even offered to cover the holiday costs of anyone who tests positive for the virus there. And with an EHIC card covering UK tourists for medical emergencies, that extra comfort knowing accommodation, medicine and food are covered takes a lot of pressure off.
There are plans for a 100-bed hospital specifically for tourists who test positive, and several designated “quarantine hotels” for the patients’ families.
There have only been 939 infections and 17 deaths confirmed on the island, so it seems a safe option for those desperate to relax by a pool. UK holiday-goers could be seen again in Cyprus as early as July, and low countries as early as June. – which together account for more than half of all holiday-goers on Cyprus – will likely be allowed to travel to the Mediterranean island in July.
Of course, Cyprus is a fantastic holiday destination all year round so the McPhee family are watching events with interest. The weather in September and October average in the high 20’s with the sea warm. The culture of Cyprus is Greek with a noticeable English influence from former British Rule. From the lively Agia Napa to the more chilled Paphos, there is something for everyone. I can taste the Halloumi, Stifado, Souvlakia, Kleftiko and Souvla now.
Where is Cyprus?
Cyprus is in the Mediterranean Sea, just over 4 hours flight from the UK. Geographically it is closer to the Middle East than Europe with Lebanon and Syria to the East, and Turkey to the North, and Egypt to the South. Greece is to the West, and is part of Europe with Euro’s as currency.
It’s the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, with an area of 9,251 sq km. It has two mountain ranges, many historic attractions, and stunning beaches. What drives tourism is the climate, with summer lasting 8 months from April to November and even winter months temperatures exceeding 20°C. High summer (July-August) usually sees temperatures exceed 35 °C with 12-13 hours of sunshine.
Due to the Islands 82% Greek-Cypriot population Cyprus is considered by some to be a Greek Island but has been independent since British rule ended in 1960. Prior to that, it was under the Turkish Ottoman Empire (although the British had de facto control since 1878 after Greece won independence from the Ottomans, and it became a crown colony in 1925).
After a Turkish Invasion in 1974, 37% of the country in the North is separated and homes the 18% Turkish Cypriot population and the remaining 58% the southern Republic of Cyprus. The capital Nicosia is the last remaining divided capital city.
Is Cyprus safe to visit?
Absolutely. The above information is just historical facts and the covid-19 infection rate is very small compared to the UK. The UN and the British army are both stationed on the Island to keep the peace and despite the proximity to the Middle East, Cyprus has not had any trouble since the Turkish invasion in 1974 (retaliation to a coup by the Greek-Cypriots who wanted to unite with Greece). Over 1 million British tourists soak up the sun on Cypriot beaches each year, and tourism in Cyprus is key to their economy.
With the announced from the Cypriot government, we are assuming restaurants and hotels will be open as normal, but it could spell the end of the buffet.
Is it safe to fly?
Usual risks aside, airlines are looking to resume flights in June but there are concerns being raised over the close proximity of passengers in confined planes with recirculated air. In the current absence of a vaccine or proof of immunity, it’s likely temperature testing will become mandatory before travel. Other techniques like one-way flows, face-masks, hand sanitation, deep-cleansing between flights will likely be in place. With tests showing people to have had Coronavirus without displaying symptoms, it does seem there is a level of risk. It would be a personal decision on if that risk is worth a holiday in the sunshine.
Is it safe to book or will flights get cancelled again?
Current relaxations are based around infection rate, so it is possible to change and become restricted. The decisions being made are driven by economical reasons, not scientific ones to stop the infection spreading. The intention is the balance between containing infection rates and normality. As such, I would speak to tour operators and your travel insurance about the cancellation policy and cover. For the extra cover, book your flights on a credit card.