Vaccinated British holidaymakers will be welcome in Cyprus from May 1, the nation’s deputy tourism minister has said, although UK government restrictions on foreign travel will still be in force.
Nearly one million people – largely older people in higher-priority vaccination groups – in the UK have received two doses of a Covid-19 jab, and the Cypriot government said those who had both jabs could travel without restrictions from May 1.
However, the date Cyprus has set to open its borders to Britons is still more than two weeks before people in England will be able to leave the country for holidays under the lockdown roadmap.
“We have informed the British government that from May 1 we will facilitate the arrival of British nationals who have been vaccinated... so they can visit Cyprus without a negative test or needing to quarantine,” deputy tourism minister Savvas Perdios told the semi-official Cyprus News Agency.
But the announcement made no mention of children, who overwhelmingly will not have had the vaccine by May.
British visitors are the largest market for Cyprus’s tourism industry, which has suffered from the coronavirus pandemic. Arrivals and earnings from the sector, which represents about 13% of the Cypriot economy, plunged on average 85% in 2020.
Perdios said the country would allow Britons who had been given vaccines approved by the European Medicines Agency the right to enter without the need for a negative test or to quarantine.
Tourists would be required to have had their second dose at the latest seven days before travel, the minister added.
Cyprus has already struck a similar agreement allowing Israeli tourists to enter the country from April 1.
The news comes days after it emerged that the European Commission is considering a “digital green pass” that could provide proof a person has been vaccinated, as well as test results for those not yet inoculated, in order to open up the bloc to tourism as early as June.
Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said the pass “should facilitate Europeans’ lives”, with an aim of allowing EU residents to move “safely in the European Union or abroad - for work or tourism.”
But it is anticipated that this scheme could be extended to non-EU countries, such as the UK, to reopen the borders for tourism and other travel.
Foreign leisure travel will still be barred for people in England at the beginning of May, with Boris Johnson saying the earliest Britons could jet away is May 17.
This is dependant on various factors related to the coronavirus pandemic, such as vaccine rollouts and the prevalence of Covid-19 variants.
Staycations could begin more than a month earlier, with people in England potentially permitted to stay in self-contained accommodation such as holiday lets from April 12 under Johnson’s road map for easing lockdown restrictions.
This has led to many people opting to plan a holiday at home, resulting in them becoming more expensive.
Researchers from Which? looked at prices for a total of 15 properties on accommodation booking platforms Airbnb and Vrbo.
The cost of stays in July and August is typically 35% higher now than if the equivalent dates last summer were booked during May and June 2020.
A one-bedroom maisonette in Brighton has the largest mark-up, increasing in price from £53 per night to £127 per night.
The cost of a one-week stay at a property in Llandudno has risen from £427 to £596, while seven nights in a property in St Ives has gone from £860 to £1,263.
Some price rises were more modest, with a one-bedroom cottage in Scarborough just 7% more expensive this summer.
Airbnb described the analysis as “misleading” and claimed research has shown guests feel the firm is more affordable than other accommodation options.
Vrbo said it “does not set, change or influence the property prices a host chooses”, adding that holidaymakers agree to prices before they book.
Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, said: “Many holidaymakers are looking forward to finally going to the seaside this summer, so it’s perhaps not a surprise that high demand has seen prices for some destinations shoot up too.”