With so much uncertainty around international travel since the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s refreshing to have a clear message from the Cyprus Government. Recognising the undoubted success of the UK’s vaccination rollout, Cyprus has set out its stall early in an effort to encourage British tourists to visit the island.
UK visitors can normally count on a warm Cypriot welcome, but after last year’s disastrous holiday season, expect to receive an even warmer reception in summer 2021.
As far as Cyprus is concerned, British visitors will be welcome from May 1st 2021.
The UK Government, however, has stated that the earliest date that travel can resume will not be until May 17th.
Cyprus promises no additional entry requirements for UK travellers who have received their second dose of an approved vaccine at least a week prior to arrival. For those who have only had their first jab, or not been vaccinated – as last year – a negative PCR test within 72 hours of departure will be required.
Authorities are currently working on a ‘vaccination passport’ system to verify vaccination status.
What makes Cyprus a Covid safe destination?
Throughout the pandemic, the Cyprus Government has received plaudits for their early adoption of strict control measures.
As an island nation, it was relatively straightforward to limit 2020 visitors according to departure country. These were categorised as red, amber and green according to their infection rates, with differing requirements for each. Arrival rules were reviewed every two weeks throughout the summer.
Local lockdowns required prior permission via text message to leave home for a limited range of reasons and time period, along with night time curfews and travel restrictions. Social distancing, capacity limits for shops and restaurants, mask wearing, sanitiser, quarantine, and other Covid protocols were compulsory – with no exceptions. Compliance was ensured via a combination of draconian fines and high visibility policing.
And despite tourism being a major income earner for the island, this was sacrificed, rather than risk residents’ safety. Tourism revenue dropped by a massive 85% last season, as travel from the UK was only allowed from August 1st, and even then only on the proviso that visitors presented a negative PCR test certificate. Random arriving flights were also selected for mass testing, to ensure that these measures were effective.
As a result of these strict protocols, Cyprus is able to claim a good record on controlling the virus. By Thursday, there had been just 36,004 infections and 232 deaths since the pandemic started. At the time of writing, Cyprus is vaccinating their age 69+ residents, while the UK is vaccinating age 56+. Visitors should also find it reassuring that the Cypriot authorities have introduced widespread testing, with almost all local residents obliged to take a rapid antigen test once a week – the European Union leader in spot tests per person.
One thing 2020 has shown us is the vital importance of making sure you have good travel insurance. Not only in case anything goes awry during your time away, but also to cover any unforeseen eventualities that might arise between booking and travel – such as the dreaded Covid-19 – it’s crucial to take out your travel insurance at the time you book your holiday. Putting off arranging your travel insurance until just before your trip, or risking travelling without any insurance could be costly mistakes.
If you take several holidays or business trips abroad within a year, it may be worthwhile exploring annual insurance options, rather than relying on a number of separate single-trip policies. Not only could this save time and hassle, but it could save money too.
Cover to look out for:
Medical expenses – including private hospital stays, private medical treatment, and in an extreme emergency – getting you back home (medical repatriation) – while a good European travel policy will give £1 million worth of cover, for travel to the USA you need £2 million medical insurance
Cancellation and curtailment – in case you need to cancel your holiday entirely, or to return home early – look for £2000 minimum cover
Missed departure or delays – due to unforeseen circumstances such as a car breakdown or accident en route to the airport – aim for at least £500 cover
Lost, stolen or damaged luggage– ideally over £1500 cover
Valuables and currency– whatever you need for valuables cover, plus maybe £500 for money equivalents (such as pre-paid tickets) and £300 for cash
Personal liability cover – in case you accidentally injure a third party, or damage property – a good policy will offer £2 million cover
Scheduled airline failure – in case your airline goes out of business – £1500 plus
Loss of passport – towards the additional expenses involved in replacing a lost or stolen passport – perhaps £250
Packaged bank accounts
When – thanks to a birthday – the cost of our annual policy suddenly leapt up, we were very glad to learn about the benefits of packaged bank accounts which include travel insurance within the monthly account fee. If you fit the income criteria and can make use of the perks these accounts offer, they can offer fantastic value.
But which to choose? We searched trusted information sources online for an unbiased assessment and advice. MoneySavingExpert.com recommends checking out the Co-op Everyday Extra account (£15 per month) for couples and older travellers as it provides worldwide family travel insurance up to age 80, plus smartphone insurance and RAC breakdown cover. They also suggest considering the Halifax Ultimate Reward account (£17 per month) for worldwide family travel insurance (including winter sports), smartphone insurance, home emergency cover and AA breakdown cover. Which.co.uk highlights the First Direct First Directory account (£15 per month) offering a similar package.
Another account to consider is the Nationwide FlexPlus account (£13 per month) chosen by both MoneySavingExpert and Which as their best buy.
Like the others, it offers comprehensive worldwide family travel cover (including winter sports), plus smartphone insurance, along with UK and European breakdown cover – this time with Britannia Rescue. MSE calculates the value of the total package as £500 for an annual fee of £156. Also as it can be a joint account, a couple can both benefit. And flexible additional cover can be added if you need it… For example if you are over 70, have existing medical conditions, want to add hazardous activities, or to make trips over their standard 31 days.
At the time of writing Nationwide has (hopefully temporarily) closed their Recommend-a-Friend scheme where anyone opening a FlexPlus account using a referral from an existing customer earns each party a £100 bonus. If you are considering opening an account for the insurance package, do check first whether this has been reinstated and get in touch if you would like to know our referral code.
The horrendous Covid-19 pandemic has played havoc with the travel industry this season. With strict measures taken early, the Cyprus government has kept the island very safe for residents and visitors. UK tourists have only been allowed in since 1 August, and only then with a negative test. Because their stats are so low, the UK has an ‘air bridge’ arrangement with Cyprus meaning there is no need to quarantine on arrival back from holiday.
Snap Up a Last-Minute Break
All the uncertainty has led to the unusual situation where we currently have some last-minute availability for September and October. We are exceptionally lucky that Pissouri is a resort with many returning visitors. Because of this we have many repeat guests who book for the following season as soon as they return from their holiday.
Currently easyJet, Ryanair, Jet2, WizzAir and BA are flying from the UK to Cyprus. Check out their websites because there are some incredible flight bargains on offer for the remainder of the 2020 season.
This is an open letter to all guests who have a booking with us for summer 2020 regarding the covid 19 coronavirus crisis.
Under normal circumstances we pride ourselves about keeping information on this website updated, but as you will appreciate, this rapidly-changing situation is impossible to predict. We are very much hoping that the current lockdowns around the globe will control the spread of this virulent pandemic, and that medical advances will enable us to return to ‘normal living’ sooner rather than later.
In common with many holiday destinations, Cyprus relies heavily on its tourism industry. Renowned for traditional Cypriot hospitality, no doubt when it is finally deemed safe for travel to the island to resume, visitors will receive an even more hearty and warm welcome than usual.
Having moved our own visits to Pissouri Bay twice due to newly-introduced travel restrictions, we are keen to get out there to prepare the villa for the season which we would normally be doing now (March). Time will tell whether we will be able to do this as currently planned (now rescheduled for May). We are trying to ignore the harbingers of doom and gloom, and to look at this optimistically.
New For 2020
We were actually very excited about the forthcoming season. Firstly we have a lovely new manager – Lisa – who provides a meet-and-greet service which is something we haven’t offered before. As always we have made some improvements to our facilities – this time we have a larger TV ready to ship and new indoor dining chairs on order. We hope that you will have the chance to experience them!
While we have every intention of honouring our existing bookings this season, unfortunately at this stage we cannot make any guarantees.
We know how important your holiday is, and appreciate that pre-planning is a key element of this. If at all possible, please could we ask you to delay making any changes to your booking until two months before departure as this is when your final balance is due. At this stage if we should need to cancel your stay – due to continuing circumstances beyond our control – the following options will be available:
Alter Your Dates of Stay
If you would prefer to reschedule your stay, we could apply your booking deposit to alternative available dates in the next 12 months.
You should be entitled to a cancellation refund via your travel insurance. We have already provided formal payment receipts and correspondence as confirmation, and our booking terms can be printed off from the guest-only password-protected booking page of the website. Should you require us to forward anything again, or any further documentation for your insurance company, just let us know.
The latest UK government travel advice for Cyprus can be seen on the FCO website. Cyprus is one of the UK’s air-bridge partners, where there is no 14-day quarantine on return to the UK.
Because the Cyprus government introduced an early and strict lockdown, their Covid-19 figures are remarkably low. It is one of the safest holiday destinations.
A Cyprus Flight Pass needs to be presented for each passenger before boarding in the UK. This can be obtained via Cyprus Flight Pass. The Cyprus government has categorised departure countries on the basis of Covid-19 status. The UK is currently unlisted, meaning it is in category C. Entry from category C countries is not allowed, except in special circumstances. This is reviewed every Monday, with a variety of reliable sources including The Cyprus Mail reporting that providing our figures continue to reduce, the UK will be granted category B status on 1 August.
The other requirement for visitors from category B countries is a negative PCR swab test result taken within 72 hours of flying. As this is not currently available in the UK, Cyprus has set up swab testing at Larnaca and Paphos airports for a subsidised €60 fee. Self-isolation is then required until the results of your test (normally 24 h).
Temperatures of incoming passengers are also being taken at the airports on arrival.
Bars, restaurants and shops are open, with social distancing and careful cleaning protocols. Previous visitors to Pissouri Bay will be aware that the beach is never crowded in a way that you see at other destinations.
On a Personal Note
The health, safety and well-being of our guests are of paramount importance above every other consideration.
We hope that you think we are acting fairly in these extremely challenging circumstances. This will be a difficult season for us, as it will for many of our Pissouri friends.
We know your long-anticipated precious holiday is a vital chance to recharge your batteries. We will only cancel if the ongoing coronavirus situation forces us to.
Please bear in mind, too, from our perspective that if we have to cancel any bookings, our small business will take a considerable loss – as we will still need to pay our manager, pool man, gardeners, utilities, mortgage, common expenses and taxes.
Like everyone else we had hoped that this would be finalised by now.
Rest assured you can still happily arrange a holiday to Cyprus whatever happens with Brexit in the coming weeks and months.
At the time of writing, (31 March), the long-awaited 29 March 2019 deadline has passed without agreement in the UK Parliament. The UK may be leaving with no-deal on 12 April, or there may be an extension for further negotiations to secure a Brexit agreement with the European Commission.
The following advice covers both scenarios…
Even if there is no-deal, the European Commission and UK government have each said that UK airlines will still be able to operate flights between the UK and the EU.
The aviation regulator has confirmed that you will still be eligible to claim compensation under EU Regulation 261 for flight delays, as this is not restricted to EU citizens only.
Regarding holiday insurance, MoneySavingExpert has done some research with UK insurers to ask whether their policies would cover Brexit-related flight disruption.
You should check that your passport will have at least 6 months’ validity beyond your travel dates in case of a no-deal Brexit.
The EU will count your passport validity at 10 years from the date of issue. It’s important to know that, because if your passport had extra months added when it was issued (due to being renewed early), those additional months will not count.
Although we take EHICs on our visits to Cyprus, it is much quicker and more convenient to use the local private medical facilities in Pissouri itself, rather than travelling to the state hospitals in Limassol or Paphos.
We strongly recommend taking out independent travel insurance at the time of booking. This should not only allow you to access the local private medical facilities, but also cover you for medical evacuation, cancellation, and lost luggage.
In the event of a no-deal Brexit, UK-registered EHICs will no longer be valid.
If there is no-deal, the UK Government will seek reciprocal arrangements for EU countries to recognise UK driving licences. In the meantime, UK licence holders will also need a 1949 International Driving Permit to drive in Cyprus.
You can get this over the counter from 2,500 UK post offices. The fee for a 12-month permit is £5.50. Your post office will need a 35 x 45 mm passport-style photo, and your UK photocard licence. If you still have the old paper licence, your passport will also be required. As each applicant signs their permit at the post office before it can be officially stamped, you have to apply in person.
How necessary having this remains to be seen… we were blissfully unaware of their existence until recently. We certainly never had one for visiting Cyprus prior to their entry into the EU in 2004.
There’s no way of knowing how the currency exchange rate will change.
If you are worried about this, Martin ‘MoneySavingExpert’ Lewis suggests hedging your bets by buying half your holiday currency now and half later.
Since June 2017 we have benefited from ‘Roam Like Home’ across the EU.
Whether this will continue after a no-deal Brexit will depend on individual mobile providers. With the exception of Three (who already offered this prior to the EU ruling, and pledge to keep it), the big UK players only say that they have ‘no plans’ to reintroduce roaming charges.
In the event of no-deal the Government plans to legislate for a £45-a-month default charging cap.
The first story in today’s episode of Rip Off Britain Holidays (currently available on BBC iPlayer) is a warning to anyone contemplating booking through an OTA (Online Travel Agent). In this particular instance it was Booking.com, but you should be aware that similar problems could arise with HomeAway, Expedia or TripAdvisor which all operate in a similar capacity.
The Benson’s Madeira Villa-Booking Experience
In January 2018, John Benson and his sister Christine found a villa on the island of Madeira for a very special family holiday to mark landmark birthdays and a diamond anniversary. They selected a roomy beachside villa with a pool and lovely gardens to accommodate three generations of their family together. The rental was £8,000 for two weeks, booked online and confirmed by Booking.com.
Their problems started a month later when the villa owner contacted them to say that as the villa had been double-booked, their booking was being cancelled. By this time the family had already spent a further £2,600 on non-refundable flights.
Although Booking.com said it would find them an alternative villa of equivalent or better size and standard, over a period of weeks the offerings were nowhere near comparable with the original.
Eventually after persuading a customer service agent to re-examine their case file, the family was sent an email with links to a choice of suitable villas. Booking.com pledged that any price difference would be the responsibility of the owner of the first villa.
Favourite by far was a villa listed at £18,638 for the same fortnight. (Yes, I know what you’re thinking, but read on…) Because this was far in excess of the original rental paid, the Bensons double-checked the Booking.com offer carefully. Finding the same villa advertised elsewhere for the same dates at £11,000 – coupled with Booking.com’s price match guarantee – gave them further reassurance that the shortfall would be a more acceptable £3,000, rather than the full £10,000+.
Further problems arose when Booking.com thought the Bensons had booked a villa they had not been offered, because they could not find the villa via their own email links. They instructed John to cancel which would release the dates – enabling them to check on their live system.
This in turn caused the owner of the second villa to charge an eye-watering 70% cancellation fee of €14,700 – for a booking that had only been in place for a matter of hours. Even after having the circumstances explained, this villa owner inexplicably refused a refund.
Appealing to Booking.com also had no effect… The response highlighted their terms and conditions stating that they are a platform linking travellers and suppliers. Their fine print stresses that your contract is with the advertiser – allowing property owners to set their own conditions and cancellation charges.
A Happy Ending – Thanks to Rip Off Britain?
Neither set of villa owners nor Booking.com come out of this account well. At the very least I would expect the first villa owner to use their local knowledge to offer assistance with finding alternative accommodation – especially as Booking.com deem them responsible for topping up the shortfall.
As the Bensons emphasise throughout the programme, they kept expecting that once matters were explained to the parties concerned, all would be well. It is mind-boggling that the situation escalated to the degree it did.
Following the involvement of BBC’s Rip Off Britain, Booking.com looked into the Benson family’s case again. Happily they have finally been reimbursed for both their villa cancellation charges and flights, in addition to being given a welcome £3,380 contribution towards another holiday.
How To Avoid This Happening To You
The key message here is that if something goes wrong, booking with one of the large holiday companies may not offer you the help, support and protection that you are expecting.
We have a checklist of suggestions to work through before booking accommodation online, created for our FAQs page. Chief of these is to book directly with the owner, after doing some research to check that the owner is both bona fide and trustworthy. You should be able to gauge this from online reviews and feedback.
The lack of concern over cancelling the Benson’s booking raises suspicions that in the scenario above, rather than finding themselves double-booked as they claimed, the first villa owner may have used this as an excuse in order to take another booking – possibly offering a longer stay, smaller group or higher rental. If this were the case, you may be able to track down other instances of unethical behaviour…
In the days of social media and online reviews, dissatisfied guests will soon find an outlet to vent their feelings. Make sure you check before booking, rather than once it is too late. Returning guests are always a good sign. (And remember to read the owners’ responses to any criticisms, as these can be enlightening.)
Oh and don’t forget to book your holiday insurance when you book your accommodation, rather than just before you travel.
It is perfectly safe to book directly – use this checklist to protect yourself from scams:
1 Can you pay by secure card portal? PayPal is not recommended. Although we prefer bank transfers, we also offer Mastercard and Visa card payments, or Revolut app transfer. To accept card payments our status has been verified by our secure processing portal.
2 Is there a contact landline number? If you can’t get us on our UK landline +44 (0) 1923 853113, we’re probably in Cyprus!
3 Do an image search. Right-click on image > search Google for image. Make sure there are no rogue listings. This is a check we also do to make sure no one is using our photos fraudulently.
4 Look for an owner’s website. Property on a listing site? Google name, location, tagline and images. Owners who have taken the time and effort to create their own website usually offer direct booking without booking site fees. Check the domain registration. Nikki registered pissouribay.com in 2006. You can track our website development via the WayBackMachine.
5 Is the owner active on social media? Find us on , , and . See our pics, read our posts and check our guest feedback.
6 Is the owner knowledgeable about the local area? Feel free to ask questions. Even if it’s something we haven’t come across in our 50+ visits, we’ll do our best to find an answer for you.
7 Read guest comments and reviews on and . Our website guestbook quotes visitors from 2006 to date. And we recently started collecting online reviews. Owners’ responses can also be illuminating!
8 Is availability displayed? Our calendar includes the initials of the lead guest for booked dates.
Are you looking at a paid advert? Scammers lift copy and photos from legitimate sites, then pay to appear on Google, Bing and Yahoo. Look for the giveaway Ad label next to search results. Check out the website you’re planning to book through on review sites before paying.
Only one payment option? It is often ok to pay by bank transfer. (We prefer this method ourselves). However, it is also a method used by fraudsters, so ask whether alternatives are accepted (cheque, card, etc). Definitely avoid payment by Western Union.
Rate too good to be true? Be suspicious if the price is much lower than others, especially if you’re offered discounts to pay in one go.
No bookings calendar? Scammers tend to avoid showing an availability calendar to enable them to take bookings for any dates you suggest.
Cyprus-specific: Before booking a company-owned villa, check their financial status
If you plan to visit Cyprus next summer, the next two Thursdays are significant dates for easyJet customers. With flights from regional airports around the UK including Luton, Gatwick, Manchester, Bristol and Edinburgh, an average aircraft age of only 6 years, and family-friendly policies such as free carriage of car and booster seats, and their low-cost ‘hands free’ option if you are happy to travel light, this airline is a popular choice for flights around Europe.
easyJet ‘Hands Free’
This allows you to check in hand luggage for a flat fee at the airport. There are advantages for both the airline and traveller…
Travellers can take toiletries and liquids in larger sizes than 100 ml without the faff of putting everything into zip lock bags. It also saves you lugging hand luggage through security and departures. And you can still take a small under-the-seat laptop or handbag on board. If you haven’t brought a bag, you will be provided with a small plastic bag at the bag drop for your valuables and essentials. You will be called to board after the ‘Speedy Boarders’ with your luggage tagged as ‘Priority’ to come off the carousel first.
For easyJet it eases the congestion in the cabin overhead lockers, and adds another small ‘extra’ charge to your booking.
To take advantage of the best rates, check out Availability Calendar and Contact Us to ask if we can reserve your preferred dates. Once agreed, we promise hold them for 24 hours which will allow you to book your flights.
Then set your alarm for Thursday morning and hop onto the easyJet website… early risers get the best flight deals!
Our photo shows an easyJet Airbus A320 turning over Pissouri on its flight path to Paphos.
Tip: to see a great aerial view of Pissouri on arrival, it’s often best to choose seats on the right-hand side of the plane.
Don’t get caught out by Ryanair’s latest sneaky change – from 13 June you will only be able to check-in free of charge 2 days before your flight. Make sure you set yourself a reminder as it’s something that could easily get overlooked in your packing frenzy.
It’s all explained in this screen grab from MoneySavingExpert:
The latest episode of this BBC consumer advice programme has some timely advice to help you avoid the pitfalls of falling victim to scammers when booking a holiday villa online.
There are two scenarios to look out for… either the villa doesn’t exist (because holiday villa scammers have stolen photos and details of another property), or you are not making a reservation with the real owner (because it’s incredibly easy for scammers to create their own advert by copying and pasting a genuine one, substituting their contact details). These problems can arise whether you are booking through a well-known listing site or a regional one, regardless of any ‘book with confidence guarantees’ they may offer.
Advice Featured in the Programme:
1) Check the website registration… how long has it been in existence?
2) Make sure you have a landline phone number… and not just email.
3) Be suspicious if there is too much availability in peak season.
4) If it’s a bargain, it’s probably too good to be true.
To Which We Would Add:
5) Can you pay by card? Holiday villa scammers prefer bank transfers.
6) Search for the property on other sites. Check whether the owner information is consistent. Search for the property name. R-click on images > Search Google for image. Also look for particular phrases used in the description.
7) Is the owner active on social media? This is a great indicator that they are genuine, as holiday villa scammers are highly unlikely to go this far. In particular look for regular posts, good local knowledge, and guest feedback.
Why Book Directly?
It’s a very good sign if the owner has their own website, as it shows they’re prepared to invest time and effort in creating one. It’s even better if the website has plenty of regularly-updated local information. And an A* goes to owners who’ve also embraced social media.
You may not be aware, but there have been major changes in the villa rental market since the advent of airbnb, and takeovers of UK listing sites such as Owners Direct and Holiday Lettings by US giants HomeAway and Expedia/TripAdvisor. Online Travel Agents require in-house communication to allow them to take an increasingly hefty commission under the guise of payment protection. They are also keen on instant booking which doesn’t give owners a chance to check that their property is a good fit for potential guests. You can read more of the frustrations about Owners Direct on the TrustPilot review site.
In an attempt to retake control, owners are rebelling in droves, setting up their own websites, listing on smaller sites, and taking to social media. By avoiding the large listing sites and booking directly, owners can offer better rates, as they’re not paying for a listing, or losing income via commission and for payment processing.
Finding an Owner’s Website
Even if you start your search on a listing site, resist the temptation to press the ‘instant book’ button when you find a property you like. It’s worth spending a little time searching to see if you can book directly. Start with the villa name and location, try image and text searches (as described above) and look under the owner’s name. And don’t be afraid to use the contact details to ask questions about the property and area.
See our FAQs page for more advice about how to be confident that you are booking directly with the genuine property owner.
We still have a choice of dates in October if you’re looking to holiday next year in sunny Cyprus. For easyJet flights at the best price we recommend booking today. I’m on standby to respond quickly to enquiries. 😎 🇨🇾
Our photo shows an easyJet Airbus A320 turning over Pissouri on its flight path to Paphos. Tip: to see a great aerial view of Pissouri choose seats on the right-hand side of the plane.