NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — Cyprus is trying to salvage a dismal tourist season by touting that only five of the roughly 200,000 tourists that have spent their holidays on east Mediterranean island nation this summer have exhibited any COVID-19 symptoms.
Cyprus’ Deputy Minister for Tourism Savvas Perdios said those five people received medical treatment free-of-charge and were sent back home symptom-free. That’s in line with Cyprus’ pledge to cover lodging, food, drink and medication for anyone who may have contracted coronavirus while vacationing on the island.
The country will also cover costs for patients’ relatives or anyone travelling with them. Perdios credits the low number of COVID-19 cases among holidaymakers to the strict health protocols that have been in force for several months to screen incoming passengers for COVID-19.
The Cypriot government has placed countries in separate categories according to their coronavirus infection rates, requiring passengers arriving from category “B” countries to obtain a medical certificate declaring them virus-free 72 hours prior to boarding a Cyprus-bound aircraft.
Perdios said Cyprus’ low COVID-19 infection rate makes it a safer holiday destination than many neighboring countries. As of Friday, Cyprus counted 1,565 confirmed coronavirus cases and 29 deaths.
“Our aim is to get vacationers here who haven’t contracted the virus and to send them home without contracting it here,” said Perdios.
Tourism directly contributes 13% to Cyprus’ economy while it’s projected that arrivals this year will fall by close to 80% relative to a record-setting 2019.
Perdios said one positive note is that tourist arrivals from Germany and Austria saw a smaller drop than originally projected.