Cypriot hoteliers were hopeful on Tuesday that tourism would slowly recover this year after tour operators in the UK reported a surge of around 600 per cent in holiday bookings, with Cyprus among the top destinations.

A slew of bookings for the island and other destinations were reported in the wake of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s road map to exit lockdown and ease coronavirus restrictions on Monday evening.

Reuters reported easyJet saying flight bookings from Britain jumped over 300 per cent and holiday bookings surged by more than 600 per cent week on week after the government indicated that travel could restart from mid-May. Holiday company TUI UK said that its bookings surged 500 per cent, while holiday and budget airline group Jet2 said its bookings were up 600 per cent.

Bookings flooded in on Monday evening and Tuesday despite ongoing uncertainty over exactly how and when international routes can reopen.

The British relaxations were particularly good news for Paphos hoteliers who are reliant on tourism from the UK, which remains the island’s main market.

“The prime minister’s announcement is at last a light in all of this darkness and the news was welcomed by UK airlines and tour operators,” said spokesman and secretary of Paphos hoteliers’ organization Pasyxe Euripides Loizides.

“In the UK market there is a massive increase in bookings on the reservation system and we are seeing bookings coming in here in Cyprus, at my hotel they are mainly for June and onwards, when for months there has been almost zero,” he told the Cyprus Mail.

Hoteliers in Cyprus are hoping for this interest to translate into real arrivals this summer, Pasyxe Director General Philokarpos Roussounides said. “The news that Cyprus is at the top of British people’s minds for their holidays this summer is a very positive note in what is a difficult moment for tourism now.”

Bookings surging for all sorts of destinations, including Cyprus, Spain, Portugal, Greece and Turkey, Loizides said.

EasyJet revealed a 337 per cent surge in flight bookings and a 630 per cent increase in holiday bookings, Tui announced it was a good day for bookings too, seeing a growth of 500 per cent while Thomas Cook witnessed a 100 per cent surge on website traffic, and was inundated with bookings for countries such as Cyprus, Greece, Mexico and the Dominican Republic.

“The government’s announcement today is good news for those of us desperate to get away on holiday,” said Thomas Cook chief executive Alan French.

“While we await more details, it’s clear that the government’s ambition is to open up international travel in the coming months and hopefully in time for the summer holidays.”

(Cyprus Mail)