2021 bookings up but too many uncertainties

By Bejay Browne

Holiday bookings for Paphos next year look promising but remain heavily dependent on too many variables, according to the Paphos Hotel Association spokesperson.

“Many customers have moved their bookings from this year until next and there are new bookings as well,” Euripides Loizides told the Cyprus Mail this week.

“People really want their holidays next year, but it is dependent on many factors, in particular, Covid 19, personal finances and Brexit.”

Next year is already showing an increase year on year, said the hotelier who also owns the Mayfair hotel. This is hopeful for the tourism industry in general, but so much is still unknown, he stressed.

In the meantime, the next few months look bleak.

Currently 17,000 beds available in Paphos out of a possible 34,000, or 50 per cent are open.

According to a survey taken at the end of last week, around 3,500 beds may be available until November 1, but many facilities will close at the end of October, he said.

Paphos is particularly dependent on the UK market and if this year is an indication, anything could happen next year. He questioned whether holiday makers, in particular from the UK, would have the money to travel next year especially if they fear for their jobs.

Brexit must also be taken into account, he said. The cost of flights and what sort of taxes will be levied remain unknown.

Hotels in Paphos are facing a bleak winter, he said, and September had not been as busy as the industry hoped, mostly due to difficulties faced by UK travellers to obtain a negative coronavirus test in time to travel.

“The first part of September was better than expected as it seemed that holidaymakers in the UK were able to obtain Covid tests reasonably easily, but now they are facing massive problems getting them on time which is why we requested they be permitted entry to Cyprus with negative tests results taken in the last 96 hours, but we have yet to receive a reply,” he said.

UK tour operators want Cyprus to allow British tourists to take a coronavirus test 96 hours before arrival on the island instead of the current 72. Last week, the hoteliers’ association conveyed the request to the health ministry.

“The UK looks like it’s in trouble and there are so few bookings coming in for the next few weeks, only cancellations and no shows, due to not getting tests in time.”

For the past two weeks bookings are more than 80 per cent down compared with last year. “Planes are still flying, but it is not as expected and coronavirus numbers are increasing in the UK,” he said.

“We will close at the end of October and we are usually open until the end of November and then reopen the end of February,” he said.

“It looks very tough for the coming weeks and the situation here is slightly worse with an increase in positive Covid 19 cases. It’s hard to know what to do for the best.”

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