The UK’s largest tour operator Tui has called for authorities in Cyprus to provide free or reduced-cost Covid-19 tests to encourage tourists to visit this summer.
Helen Caron, Tui Group’s purchasing director, said holidaymakers would not be “able to bear the cost” of having to take multiple Covid tests to go on holiday.
UK holidaymakers could face having to take at least two tests on their way to their destination, as well as another two tests when they return home, even for countries classified as “green” under the UK government’s new traffic light system.
During a virtual conference held by the Cyprus Hotel Managers Association on Thursday (15 April), Caron said these costs meant destinations would have to look for ways to either reduce the prices of Covid tests.
“Cyprus should focus on reducing the burden of the cost of these tests,” added Caron. “You should consider ways to cap the cost of tests or provide them for free.”
She said Cyprus also needed to provide sufficient testing capacity for visitors, as well as certification for tests that holidaymakers have to take before they return home.
“They [holidaymakers] need to know they are going to get that really easily in a seamless process and have it certified by providing the relevant documentation,” said Caron.
She also urged Cypriot authorities to ease quarantine restrictions for those who have received only one dose of a Covid vaccine, and not just for those travellers who have had both shots of a vaccine, as currently planned.
Caron added that many of its UK customers would not have received both vaccine doses until “later in the summer”.
Tui currently plans to restart flights from the UK to Cyprus from 17 May – the earliest date that the UK government will allow international travel to reopen.
“As soon as we can restart, Tui will be returning to Cyprus,” pledged Caron. “This is a moving feast – we’re seeing strong demand for summer 2022 and have amended holidays into future seasons.”
Steve Heapy, chief executive of Jet2.com and Jet2holidays, said they had decided to cancel all flights and holidays until 24 June because he thought the resumption of travel on 17 May was “not going to happen”.
“I’m more confident about 24 June than 17 May,” he added. “We have had customers who have thanked us for our decisive action. Our rebooking rate is 70%, that’s an enormous success.”
Heapy also pledged to reintroduce more flights to Cyprus “quicker than any of our competitors”.
“We’re always the quickest to react. If Cyprus is booming, we will put more capacity into Cyprus,” he added. “We’re ready to come back and we will be back in force. We have an ongoing commitment to growing in Cyprus.
“We’re doing what we can to bring travel back in a more sustainable way and have some longevity. We don’t want to be in and out of destinations in the next few months.”
Heapy also called for a reduction in the prices of PCR Covid tests which could add up to £500 for a family of four.
“It’s a lot of inconvenience and a lot of cost – we will be lobbying to bring those costs down,” he said.