NICOSIA, March 24 (Xinhua) — Flights to and from Cyprus will increase as from the end of March, with thousands of travelers expected to pass through the island’s two international airports, Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos said Wednesday.
Currently, only a few flights per day operate from Larnaca airport, while the Paphos airport has been closed down for many months.
“By the end of March, around 160 flights per week will land in Cyprus; by mid-April, we hope to see the number rise to 240. We expect a real increase in tourists’ arrivals by mid-May, especially after May 17, when tourists from the United Kingdom will start arriving in Cyprus,” Karousos told the state-run Cyprus News Agency.
Karousos said that airports are preparing to speed up procedures. Many random tests will be carried out when travelers arrive without a Green Pass denoting either vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test.
He also said that Cyprus is strongly in favor of the Digital Green Certificate proposed by the European Commission, but added that he did not expect its introduction before the end of June.
Cyprus is eager to restart tourism, which contributes about 21 percent to the island’s economy in pre-pandemic years. Tourism revenues were down by more than 85 percent in 2020 as a result of COVID-19 restrictions.
Cypriot authorities rely mostly on vaccination to immunize elderly people and front-line workers, such as hospital staff and those coming into close contact with large numbers of people.
Vaccination is also underway in an increasing number of countries with already-authorized coronavirus vaccines.
Meanwhile, 264 candidate vaccines are still being developed worldwide — 82 of them in clinical trials — in countries including Germany, China, Russia, Britain, and the United States, according to information released by the World Health Organization.