Cyprus to allow Israelis in starting April 1; Greece lifts cap on visitors

Vaccinated travelers will be able to freely enter countries, though Greece will require negative test; Israel’s tourism industry quick to arrange flights and deals

Illustrative: An empty hotel beach near Athens, March 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Yorgos Karahalis)
Illustrative: An empty hotel beach near Athens, March 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Yorgos Karahalis)

Two Mediterranean nations are opening up to Israelis, with Greece removing its tourist cap and Cyprus announcing it will begin welcoming Israeli travelers without quarantine starting April 1.

Cyprus declared in a press release Tuesday that fully inoculated tourists or those with negative coronavirus tests will be able to freely enter the country no need to quarantine.

“Prepare the beaches, hotels and restaurants for Israelis waiting to return and visit Cyprus,” Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi told Cypriot counterpart Nikos Christodoulides, in reaction to the agreement. “Your recognition of the ‘Green
Pass’ will open the skies and restore widespread tourism soon.”

The deal with Cyprus was made a month ago, when its President Nicos Anastasiades visited Israel. The travel agreement was intended as a step toward restoring tourism in both countries — sectors that have been hit hard by the year-long pandemic.

(L to R) Cyprus’ President Nicos Anastasiades elbow-bumps Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (mask-clad), during a joint press statement after their meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem on February 14, 2021. (Marc Israel SELLEM / POOL / AFP)

Also Tuesday, Greece lifted its cap on the number of Israeli tourists permitted to enter the country, formerly set at 10,000 travelers a week. All tourists — even those who are fully vaccinated — will be required to present a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of their flight, Israel’s Foreign Ministry said.

Unvaccinated Israelis with negative COVID-19 tests will be allowed to enter but will need to quarantine for seven days upon arrival.

In light of the news, Israeli airlines and tourism companies have been quick to set up daily flights to a number of Greek destinations.

Israir Airlines announced that it will begin flights to Athens on Thursday and add additional destinations, such as Thessaloniki, Rhodes and Corfu, next week. Tickets will start at $199 per person.

Illustrative: An Israir flight taking off from Ben Gurion International Airport, Tel Aviv. September 3, 2015. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)

The Flying Carpet, an Israeli tourist company, also announced that it will facilitate immediate daily travel to locations such as Rhodes, Crete, Athens and Thessaloniki.

“We are prepared and ready to begin immediate flights. Our hotels in Greece and our company’s representatives are already on the ground and waiting for Israeli tourists,” the company said.

Tourism groups Kavei Hufsha, Blik Tourism and Daka 90 plan to sell package deals for tourists at 5-star hotels.

Tourists stand in front of the temple of Hera in ancient Olympia, the place that hosted the ancient Olympic Games, on March 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

“Greece is currently in the middle of an intense vaccination campaign in order to create green tourism islands for safe vacations. A variety of hotels have already opened, mainly in Crete, Athens and Thessaloniki, and the Greek government has great expectations for the arrival of Israeli tourists,” the companies said in a joint statement.

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