BRITISH party destination Ayia Napa has been left a ghost town due to coronavirus during what is usually the busiest time of the year.
Town mayor Christos Zanettos said they haven’t seen it this empty during peak season for more than 25 years.
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Usually at this time of year the first tourists descend on Ayia Napa as Cyprus’ premier party resort kicks off for a season that often lasts through to November.
This week Ayia Napa’s golden beaches and clear blue waters were utterly empty – umbrellas and beach loungers were stacked neatly along its shores but there was nobody there.
Mr Zanettos said: “Not since 1974 when I was born have I or anyone seen anything like it.”
He has also started enlisting lifeguards for the beaches amid hope that, at the very latest, the holiday season will begin on June 1.
Ayia Napa remains among the top party destinations for Brits in the Mediterranean drawing close to a million UK revellers every year.
This summer it hopes to get them back in spades as Cyprus sells itself as a coronavirus-free destination after recording some of the lowest casualties and cases in Europe.
The island has less than 1,000 cases, with only 107 confirmed deaths caused by coronavirus.
Speaking exclusively to Sun Online the county’s tourism minister, Savvas Perdios, said Brits would be “welcomed with open arms.”
Any suggestion they weren’t, he insisted, referring to earlier reports they’d be at the bottom of the list of visitors the island wants to fly in, was “wrong and unfounded.”
Cyprus is in a race against-the-clock to prepare itself for the season, its tourism minister said after the EU announced travel guidelines to get the industry moving on Wednesday. “Foreign travel agents and tour operators have been waiting to get these in their hands,” he said of the safeguards describing them as “the backbone” on which the tourist industry could press the reset button.
But the government has also signalled it wants to clean up the reputation of the resorts.
Banning consumption of alcohol on streets, sidewalks and public squares will be part of a “new national tourism strategy,” says Mr Perdios.
Last week he endorsed local health ministry efforts to ban laughing gas in Ayia Napa, long blamed for outrageous behaviour in the resort and widespread in Cyprus’ popular coastal areas.
The tourism minister added to Sun Online Travel: “The intention is to draft new laws that will make Cyprus a quieter destination and make sure people are behaving properly in the streets, when it comes to having a drink, going out, respecting their surroundings etc.
“We would have done it by now but because of the Covid outbreak everything has been put on hold.”
In recent years Ayia Napa has sought to clean up its reputation for drunken debauchery with a building drive that has included multi-million pound marinas and upscale resorts.
Yiannis Karousos, who was Ayia Napa’s mayor until October when he became the island’s transport minister, began the clean-up campaign saying the town wanted to break away from its image as a lads holiday destination with round-the-clock bars, pubs and clubs. Instead it wanted to become “the most cosmopolitan resort of the Mediterranean.”
TUI wants to restart their summer holiday packages, with Cyprus one of the key destinations.
Friedrich Joussen, TUI Group CEO, said “People want to travel. Europe must now gradually open up.
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