Cyprus will add 16 countries to its “coronavirus safe list” on April 1, in an attempt to kickstart its beleaguered tourism industry.
The Mediterranean island will reopen its borders to some of its biggest tourism markets, including the UAE, the UK, Russia, Israel, Ukraine, Lebanon, Egypt, Belarus, Serbia, the US and Qatar.
Visitors from these countries will not need special permission to enter the country and will not be required to quarantine upon arrival, as is currently the case, according to the island’s health ministry.
They will, however, need to present a negative PCR test, taken within 72 hours of arrival, and will be tested again for the virus upon entering the country. All tourists will need to comply with existing health protocols on the island, which include mandatory face mask-wearing and social distancing in public.
From Saturday, May 1, Cyprus will also start to welcome vaccinated British tourists with no entry restrictions. The UK is the island's largest tourism market, accounting for nearly four million arrivals in 2019. Russia is the island's second biggest tourism market, followed by Israel.
Tourism represents 15 per cent of Cyprus's GDP, and the industry has been hard hit by the pandemic. International arrivals dropped by 80 per cent in 2020, while earnings from this vital sector plummeted by 85 per cent.
The island has recorded 45,000 Covid-19 infection and 250 deaths, and has implemented two national lockdowns, but has fared relatively well compared to other EU nations.
In a study by the Australian independent think tank Lowy Institute released in January, Cyprus ranked fifth in a Covid Performance Index of almost 100 countries for its successful handling of the coronavirus pandemic.