A last minute Cypriot campaign in the United Kingdom to secure quarantine-free travel to the island failed to yield results on Thursday, with the island now focusing on Russia, its second largest market, to keep summer hopes alive.
Britain not only did not add other countries to its green list on Thursday but it also removed Portugal from its quarantine-free travel.
British transport minister Grant Shapps said the measure was based on “safety-first” but the decision angered many tour operators and airlines who accused him of denying a cash lifeline to the heavily impacted industry.
"This decision essentially cuts the UK off from the rest of the world," said easyJet, which flies to top destinations in dozens of countries including Cyprus.
On Saturday the Cypriot minister is expected to visit Moscow in a similar effort to convince Russia, Cyprus’ second largest market, to allow chartered flights to resume on the island
British Airways also said the news was "incredibly disappointing and confusing” both for the aviation industry but also travelers.
Following the announcement, tourism industry officials in Cyprus warned that June was going to be a very difficult month.
London’s decision essentially slams the brakes or significantly reduces large-scale preparatory work on the island’s hospitality industry, just two months after Cyprus had opened up to dozens of markets including the United Kingdom.
Back in March, the Cypriot government made a decision to allow British vaccinated tourists on May 1 to fly in without any restrictions if they have been vaccinated against COVID-19.
But Tourism Deputy Minister Savvas Perdios had made it clear that it would be up to individual foreign governments to have the final word.
Perdios traveled to London earlier this week in a bid to sway British officials towards including the island on the green list, following a recent improvement of the epidemiological situation on the island that could still be argued either way.
A lot at stake in Moscow visit
On Saturday the Cypriot minister is expected to visit Moscow in a similar effort to convince Russia, Cyprus’ second largest market, to allow chartered flights to resume on the island.
Back in April, in just a matter of hours there were 100,000 cancelations from Russia for the month of May, while European companies were also postponing chartered flights for May and June.
Earlier this year, Cyprus and other EU states had declared readiness to purchase the Sputnik vaccine as long as the Russian jab would get EMA approval.
But Sputnik is currently listed on Cyprus’ Flight Pass website as an accepted vaccine for travelers to the island.
Perdios has said foreign travelers, who have completed their vaccination against COVID-19 with Russia’s SputnikV vaccine, would be permitted to enter the Republic without other coronavirus tests.
Only a handful of EU member states have bypassed the bloc’s approval process and authorized the use of Sputnik V on their territory, while a rolling review of the jab is still in process at the European Medicines Agency.