Cancellations and minimal new bookings have brought travel agents to “the brink of disaster”, the President of the Cyprus Association of Travel Agents, Vasilis Stamataris, said in a press conference on Wednesday.
With an estimated reduction in sales to the tune of €30 million, travel agents on Wednesday requested financial assistance frhoom the government, so that the industry “can be kept alive,” as Stamataris said.
Travel agents were scheduled to meet with Finance Ministry officials later on Wednesday to discuss ways out of the financial conundrum of March and April.
Though businesses estimate they have a survival margin of around 2-3 months, bookings in May are expected to suffer the same fate as March and April.
Stamataris stressed that financial assistance from the government will pump oxygen through travel agencies, and allow offices to continue operating without resorting to laying off staff.
Honourary President of the Association, Akis Kelembesis, noted that this is first time the industry has reached a point which required financial assistance.
“The travel agency sector employs 2,000 persons,” Kelembesis said, noting that “what we are asking for is minimal compared to what we are entitled to.”
Tourism, the strongest pillar of the Cyprus economy, brings in around €2 billion on an annual basis, Stamataris said, stressing that the travel agency sector is threatened by extinction due to the problems brought about by the coronavirus spread.
“There are no new bookings, large tour operators are reducing their summer bookings for preventative reasons, while bookings for conferences, group and school trips, and travel in general have seen significant decreases,” Stamataris said.
A glimmer of hope still rests for the summer season, which have not seen any cancellations yet, Stamataris said.