CB: Any further measures to support the economy should be targeted


Any further measures to support the economy from the impact of the pandemic in 2021 should be targeted, aiming at minimizing the consequences, while reducing the effects on public finances, the Central Bank of Cyprus (CBC) points out in its annual Financial Stability Report for 2020.

It is also noted that medium-term risks to financial stability are high and the CBC is monitoring them closely in order to take measures to reduce potential vulnerabilities in the system.

"While the economy of Cyprus in 2020 was affected by health developments, in 2021 support measures should be targeted in order to mitigate the risks that have been created," it is added.

It is noted that the immediate reaction of the supervisory authorities and governments in 2020 has largely contained the negative effects on the real economy and the CBC considers it important to take advantage of the package of measures that is already underway. At the same time, the CBC says that the withdrawal of the measures should be gradual in order to avoid a cliff effect.

CBC furthermore notes that maintaining the creditworthiness of Cyprus in the investment grade is considered particularly important at a time when the continued support of the economy is necessary.

The CBC also says that the possibility of using government guarantees to provide loans will help boost lending and may mitigate some of the risks of ending the economy support measures, offering liquidity to businesses.

Pre-existing macroeconomic imbalances as well as structural problems in financial sector should be resolved by creating a healthy and competitive economy that will be able to face new crises without the burdens of the past, it also pointed out.

At the same time, the CBC notes that the launch of vaccinations, the new categorization of countries and the latest developments in terms of increased bookings, raise expectations for a recovery in tourism in 2021, with an increase of arrivals compared to 2020, but also for recovery and restart of the economy in general.

The CBC notes that in 2020, support measures have greatly mitigated the economic impact of the pandemic. It is reported, however, that despite the support measures, the health crisis has increased uncertainty in the macroeconomic environment, creating new or reinforcing existing risks.

"In particular, the recession and the slow recovery of the economy may lead to a deterioration in the incomes and balance sheets of the already indebted companies and households, while increasing the risk for insolvent non-financial corporations, with a consequent increase in unemployment," it is noted.

The CBC adds that while low interest rates and ongoing bond purchases by national central banks and the ECB through ECB bond purchase programs make government access to markets easier, further increases in public debt, in particular, from non-targeted support measures may pose risks to its future viability.

It is also noted that the credit institutions of Cyprus, despite the corrections in recent years, have been called upon to deal with the economic impact of the pandemic with an already high level of Non-performing Loans (NPLs), low profitability and structural problems, greatly affecting their ability to provide new loans.

The CBC also notes that the impact on NPLs is expected to come out by 2021. A new wave of NPLs, provisions and losses after the end of support measures in 2021, the CBC continues, should be expected, however this can be reduced with the correct and rapid use of the restructuring tool.

At the same time, it is added, credit institutions may face the challenge of deterioration of credit quality on the one hand and reduced profitability prospect on the other.


Source: StockWatch

Cyprus to implement Green Pass, Safe Pass will not be digitalised


The Deputy Ministry of Research and Innovation has decided not to proceed with the digitalisation of the Safe Pass (Cyprus immunity certificate), but to directly implement the Green Pass (European digital immunity certificate), which is being prepared by the European Union and is expected to be implemented in June.

In statements to CNA Deputy Minister for Research and Innovation Kyriakos Kokkinos said that based on the data we have before us, the Green Pass will be ready for implementation the second half of June. He added that until then, Cyprus will be using the Safe Pass which will continue to be in a printed form.

It is recalled that Cyprus uses the Safe Pass until the implementation of the Green Pass. The Safe Pass is needed to enter areas like shopping malls, restaurants, coffee shops, churches, social events, hotels, gyms etc. Citizens who enter must show evidence that they have been vaccinated with at least one dose and 3 weeks have passed, or have been ill with COVID-19 for the last 6 months or, show a negative test certificate, PCR or rapid test, valid for 72 hours.

Invited to give more details about the Green Pass, Kokkinos said that it will be digital, in the form of an application, but noted that citizens who are not technologically up to date will be able to print it. It is noted that the Green Pass will be a cross-border application, aiming to facilitate safe and free movement in all European countries.


Source: Stockwatch

Cyprus introduces safepass, gradual easing of restrictive measures


Cyprus is introducing a so called “safepass” as of Monday, 10 May until the end of the month. Citizens no longer need to send an sms  for their movements and the curfew is extended from 11pm until 05:00 the next day.

The measures will take effect from today, 10 May at 06:00 until 31 May 05:00 and include opening of schools with the physical presence of students who will have to present a weekly negative rapid test and the opening of restaurants and retail businesses.

Τhe movement of persons during curfew hours is permitted for purposes of moving to and from workplaces, with the presentation of Form A,  for emergencies, such as to go to a medical centre or a hospital or a pharmacy or a veterinarian.

Gatherings are allowed in public areas (parks, squares, excursion sites, dams, beaches, marinas and linear parks) provided the number of persons does not exceed ten, including children. The presence of up to 10 people is allowed in residences, including children.

Schools will remain open with the physical presence of students who will have to present a weekly rapid test. Gymnasium, Lyceum and cycle B will have to present a negative rapid test valid for 72 hours on the first day of classes. The rapid test for primary school students is not obligatory but parents are advised to take their children for a rapid test once a week.

Teachers of primary and high schools need to take the test weekly and are exempted in case they have finished the 1st dose of their vaccine scheme or have been ill from covid the past 6 months. Students who were also ill are free from this obligation as well.

Outdoor dining is allowed for restaurants, taverna, cafeterias, pubs, snack bars and bars, coffee shops and shops within shopping malls and canteens, based on the existing protocol. Those dining will have to present a safepass. From 1st June, indoor dining will be allowed. Conditions for the safepass are to have finished the inoculation with the 1st dose the past 3 weeks, to have been infected the past 6 months or to show a rapid test or PCR valid the past 72 hours. Citizens can show as a proof, their inoculation card, the sms from the contact tracing unit that they were sick and have recovered and the rapid test/PCR.

Church services and other forms of religious worship at religious sites will be allowed provided persons attending present the safepass and only up to 50 people are allowed until 16th May. From 17 May, the maximum physical presence of worshippers allowed will stand at 30% of the premises’ capacity, with the necessary safepass presentation. From June 1, 2021, the presence of believers is allowed with a maximum physical presence of 50% of the capacity of the place of religious worship, with the necessary presentation of safepass.

Lunches/dinners and any other kind of gatherings for weddings and christenings are allowed until 16th May with up to ten people including children. From the 17th, these gatherings will be allowed only in outdoor areas with up to 200 people and the presentation of safepass. Cocktail parties are prohibited. From 1st June, indoor dining is allowed based on the agreed timeframe and with a safepass.

Similarly, weddings, funerals and christenings are allowed with the presence of up to 10 people until 16th May. From the 17th, the maximum number of people allowed is 200, provided it does not surpass the 30% capacity and the presentation of a Safepass.

Visits to hospitals, clinics, medical and diagnostic centres are allowed with the approval of the centre’s executive director and the presentation of a negative PCR test performed within 48 hours.

The  operation  of open-air  and  indoor  theatres,  amphitheaters,  cinemas  and performance halls is permitted with a maximum of 50 spectators attending and subject to a safepass. After the 17th of May, capacity in indoor areas should not exceed 30% and 50% for outdoor areas while from 1st June, the capacity in indoor areas is increased to 50%. A safepass is necessary.

Markets will operate with 50% capacity and 1.5 meters distance between shoppers, according to protocol and without a safepass.

Mass gatherings, demonstrations, parades, concerts, festivals in public and private areas and fairs are prohibited.

Indoor shopping malls can operate provided shoppers present safepass.

The remaining retailers can open provided they observe the measure of 1 person per 10 sqm of working capacity for shops below 1,000 sqm and a safepass for big stores only.

The operation of hairdressing salons and beauty centres is permitted subject to the guidelines of the protocol without a safepass.

Gymns, dance schools and other sports’ academies that were operating until 30th April can re-operate provided those attending can present a safepass.

Betting shops can re-open provided they observe the measure of 1 person per 10sqm without seated indoor areas. Seating is allowed outside without a safepass.

Casinos will remain closed until the 16th but from the 17th May will reopen with a 30% capacity and a safepass and from 1st June with a 50% capacity.

Swimming pools can re-open for training purposes on the basis of the 30th April protocol as well as access to beaches, according to the protocol in place last summer, without  the presentation of a safepass.

All study groups as well as sports and social gatherings for children under the age of 18 are allowed, according to the 30th April protocol (6+1) while extracurricular activities in indoor areas are allowed and a mandatory rapid test on a weekly basis is necessary.

The operation of night clubs, event venues, discos, clubs and music and dancing venues is suspended.

The  operation  of open-air  and  indoor  playgrounds,  luna  parks  and  thematic  parks  remains suspended until the 16th of May but from the 17th, they can re-open based on the protocol provisions and only outdoor areas without holding social gatherings (birthday parties, etc).

Conferences and exhibitions will remain suspended until the 16th and from the 17th they can re-operate with only the 30% capacity of the venue  in use and no cocktails allowed. From 1st June the capacity is increased to 50% and participation in conferences requires a safepass.

Visits to nursing homes, care for the elderly units, chronic patients’ units, homes and   hostels   for   vulnerable   groups,   transitional   hospitality   hostels   for   the homeless,  day  centres  and  child  protection  units are  allowed  subject  to  the guidelines of the Protocols and a safepass.

Camping areas remain suspended.

Hotels are open from 10th May, for accommodation, with the presentation of a safepass.

Pre-election rallies are allowed provided that the restrictions regarding the capacity of the event will be observed and the attendees will be seated with the necessary presentation of the safepass. Cocktails are prohibited. For example, in open theater /amphitheatre the capacity is up to 50%. In indoor theatres/ amphitheatre up to 30% capacity while at associations/outdoor restaurants attendees must be seated. The maximum number of people present in homes is 10, including those permanent residents.

The public and the wider public sector shall work through teleworking until 16th May. From 17 May compulsory teleworking with the exception of substantial services ensuring, as far as possible, physical presence of up to 50%.

In private companies until May 16, the measure of physical presence of 30% of their staff remains, with a maximum number of employees that can be physically present reaching 50 per establishment and a minimum of 5. From 17th May physical presence of up to 50% is allowed.

In private hospitals, surgeries are allowed with up to 80% bed coverage except for ICU which should have a ceiling of 60% occupied beds.


Source: Stockwatch

Διαβατήρια: Ξέφραγο αμπέλι το κράτος


Διάχυτες σε όλα τα επίπεδα ιεραρχίας των υπουργείων ήταν οι παρεμβάσεις παρόχων υπηρεσιών στο πλαίσιο του κυπριακού επενδυτικού προγράμματος, στην προσπάθεια τους να επέμβουν στις διαδικασίες εξέτασης αιτήσεων πολιτογράφησης, με βάση το ενδιάμεσο πόρισμα της Ερευνητικής Επιτροπής.

Μάλιστα, σε ορισμένες περιπτώσεις υψηλού κινδύνου, εντοπίστηκε ότι ασκήθηκαν όχι μόνο πιέσεις ως προς τον χρόνο διεκπεραίωσης των αιτήσεων, αλλά και σημαντικές παρεμβάσεις, έως και υποδείξεις, ως προς την ικανοποίηση των κριτηρίων του ΚΕΠ. Στο στόχαστρο των παρεμβάσεων, με βάση τα όσα αναφέρει το πόρισμα, φαίνεται να ήταν τα υπουργεία Εσωτερικών και Οικονομικών, ή ακόμα και το Προεδρικό.

Όπως αναφέρεται στο πόρισμα, «οι παρεμβάσεις και οχλήσεις γίνονταν σε όλα τα επίπεδα της ιεραρχίας των Υπουργείων και άλλων τμημάτων του Κράτους χωρίς διάκριση, από τον λειτουργό, μέχρι τον Γενικό Διευθυντή του Υπουργείου, τον Υπουργό και τον Πρόεδρο της Δημοκρατίας, προσπαθώντας να επέμβουν στη διαδικασία εξέτασης της αίτησης».

Σημειώνεται πως μερικοί πάροχοι υπηρεσιών συμπεριφέρονταν κατά τρόπο πιεστικό, τηλεφωνούσαν για να ενημερωθούν σε πιο στάδιο εξέτασης βρισκόταν η αίτηση που υπέβαλαν και είχαν άποψη για την εφαρμογή των κριτηρίων (εάν έπρεπε να εφαρμοστούν κατά γράμμα ή όχι).

Ταυτόχρονα, παρεμβάσεις προς τους δημόσιους λειτουργούς εντοπίστηκαν και από αξιωματούχους του Κράτους.

Σημειώνεται πως τουλάχιστον στα πρώτα χρόνια της λειτουργίας του Κυπριακού Επενδυτικού Προγράμματος, εντοπίστηκαν περιπτώσεις όπου πρώην Γενικοί Διευθυντές του Υπουργείου Εσωτερικών παρενέβαιναν στη διαδικασία εξέτασης της αίτησης για να δώσουν οδηγίες που δεν ήταν συμβατές με το θεσμικό πλαίσιο ή την πρακτική που ακολουθούσε το Υπουργείο Εσωτερικών κατά την εξέταση των φακέλων.

Η Ερευνητική Επιτροπή σημειώνει σε σχέση με τις παρεμβάσεις, πως «σε μια μικρή χώρα όπως η Κύπρος, οι προσωπικές γνωριμίες, και δη με άτομα σε θέσεις κλειδιά, θα μπορούσε να πει κανείς ότι είναι κάτι το αναπόφευκτο».

Έφτασαν μέχρι την πόρτα του Προεδρικού οι πιέσεις

Στο πόρισμα παρατίθεται αναφορά στην κατάθεση του υπουργού Οικονομικών Κωνσταντίνου Πετρίδη, σύμφωνα με την οποία ορισμένοι, υψηλού κύρους δικηγόροι, όπως αναφέρει, είχαν φτάσει να χτυπήσουν μέχρι και την πόρτα του Προεδρικού.

Σημειώνεται πως σε ορισμένες περιπτώσεις, φαίνεται να γίνεται κατάχρηση των διαδικασιών και των όσων ζητούνται να υλοποιηθούν, με αποτέλεσμα να προτείνονται πολιτικές οι οποίες εξυπηρετούν συμφέροντα μιας ομάδας παρόχων, που συνήθως έχουν πρόσβαση σε υψηλούς αξιωματούχους του Κράτους.

Σε άλλο σημείο του ενδιάμεσου πορίσματος, αναφέρεται πως «φαίνεται ότι και το Προεδρικό Μέγαρο υπήρξε δέκτης παρεμβάσεων από παρόχους υπηρεσιών και συμμετείχε ενεργά στη διαμόρφωση των διαφόρων πολιτικών που αφορούσαν τα επενδυτικά σχέδια, δίνοντας οδηγίες προς το υπουργείο Εσωτερικών».

Με βάση τα συμπεράσματα της Επιτροπής, ορισμένοι πάροχοι υπηρεσιών, που ήταν συνδεδεμένοι και με πολιτικά πρόσωπα, δείχνουν ότι κάποιες φορές χρησιμοποιούσαν τη σχέση αυτή, προκειμένου να πιέσουν και να επηρεάσουν τα υπουργεία Εσωτερικών/Οικονομικών, ακόμη και το Προεδρικό, είτε ως προς την επίσπευση εξέτασης των αιτήσεων τους είτε ως προς την έγκριση αιτήσεων πολιτογράφησης παρεκκλίνοντας από τα σε ισχύι κριτήρια.

«Ήταν θέμα ηθικής και επαγγελματισμού από πλευράς των παρόχων υπηρεσιών, αλλά ταυτόχρονα σε αρκετές περιπτώσεις συνιστούσε και θέμα ανοχής από πλευράς των δημοσίων λειτουργών και των αξιωματούχων του Κράτους, οι οποίοι βρίσκονται στις θέσεις τους για να προσφέρουν υπηρεσίες προς το κράτος», επισημαίνει η Ερευνητική Επιτροπή.

Όλοι γνώριζαν, λίγοι κατονόμασαν

Η πρακτική να απορρίπτεται αρχικά μια αίτηση διότι δεν πληρούνται οι προϋποθέσεις ή τα κριτήρια και ακολούθως να παρεμβαίνουν πάροχοι, ή άλλοι παράγοντες για να «επεξηγηθούν» προς το Υπουργείο διάφορα σημεία, να τονιστεί η σημασία της επένδυσης του επενδυτή ή να υποβληθούν επιπλέον πληροφορίες για να «πειστεί» το Υπουργείο ότι οι προθέσεις του επενδυτή ήταν σοβαρές και η «ευκαιρία» της επένδυσης του δεν έπρεπε να χαθεί, παρατηρήθηκε σε αρκετούς φακέλους υψηλού κινδύνου που μελετήθηκαν, σύμφωνα με την Επιτροπή.

Σημειώνεται ότι σχεδόν όλοι όσοι προσήλθαν να προσφέρουν μαρτυρία περιέγραψαν παρόμοια περιστατικά, όπου πάροχοι υπηρεσιών «πολιορκούσαν κυριολεκτικά το Υπουργείο Εσωτερικών, Οικονομικών, ακόμα και το Προεδρικό στην προσπάθεια τους να εγκριθεί η αίτηση των πελατών τους και να ικανοποιηθούν τα αιτήματα τους».

«Όλοι σχεδόν οι μάρτυρες άκουσαν, είδαν, έζησαν, έτυχε να διαχειριστούν παρεμβάσεις από παρόχους υπηρεσιών, πολιτικά πρόσωπα, ακόμα και ιερωμένους (πέρα από τη γνωστή επιστολή του Αρχιεπισκόπου), αλλά στην Ερευνητική Επιτροπή όλοι (πλην μερικών εξαιρέσεων) ήταν πολύ διστακτικοί να κατονομάσουν, ή να γίνουν πιο συγκεκριμένοι», όπως αναφέρεται.

Χαρακτηριστικό υποθέσεων ψηλού κινδύνου

Οι αθέμιτες παρεμβάσεις αξιωματούχων ή/και λειτουργών ή παρεμβάσεις καθ’ υπέρβαση της συνήθους διαδικασίας περιλαμβάνονται στα κριτήρια των υποθέσεων που η Επιτροπή έκρινε ως υψηλού κινδύνου.

Στο μέρος της έκθεσης που αφορά στο υπουργείο Εσωτερικών, σημειώνεται πως οι αμοιβές για αγορά υπηρεσιών στο πλαίσιο του ΚΕΠ, μπορούσαν να οδηγήσουν σε παρεμβάσεις.

Σε ότι αφορά τις εποπτικές αρχές, σημειώνεται πως ΣΕΛΚ και Παγκύπριος Δικηγορικός Σύλλογος, δεν δέχθηκαν καταγγελίες για αθέμιτες πρακτικές, σχετικές με τις εργασίες των εποπτευόμενών τους σε ότι αφορά στο ΚΕΠ, όπως υπερβολικές χρεώσεις και παρεμβάσεις προς κρατικές υπηρεσίες, άρα δεν διενήργησαν οποιαδήποτε έρευνα για το θέμα αυτό.

Της Μαρίας Χαμπή STOCKWATCH

WiRE Index: New Index for property prices and rents


WiRE FS, presents for the first time a new Index for the prices and rental costs of properties.

Created retrospectively from Q4 2009, the Index records the quarterly change in prices and rents for all types of properties by district: apartments, houses, retail, offices, holiday apartments and holiday houses. In total, it records the prices and rents for 54 areas and sub-areas and presents the collective data for each district and type of property.

The latest data processed by WiRE concern Q1 2021. Following the same trend as the corresponding months of 2020, the first months of 2021 were greatly affected by the coronavirus pandemic and the relevant restrictions, recording a drop in the prices across all property categories. Rents also recorded a drop in most categories.

Apartment prices fell by 0.5% in Q1 2021, compared to Q1 2020, commercial properties (retail) by 5.3%, warehouses by 4.5%, offices spaces by 1.0%, holiday apartments by 1.2% and holiday houses by 3.2%. House prices increased by 1.5%.

Pavlos Loizou, Managing Director of WiRE FS explains that the relatively big drop observed in warehouse prices is likely to be temporary, since there has been a recent increase in demand from companies engaged in logistics, as well as other companies that have expanded their online sales channels. “We also expect the prices for holiday properties to recover soon; as the pandemic comes under control, demand for these properties will progressively increase from foreign buyers who find it difficult to visit the island now,” he says. It seems that it will be more difficult for the prices of commercial properties (retail) to return back to positive levels. The market needs more time to recover as consumers are going through a period of redefining their purchasing priorities, lifestyle and the way they shop, Loizou adds.  

For rentals, on an annual basis, prices dropped for apartments (-0.6%), commercial shops (-6.4%), offices (-3.2%) and holiday houses (-5.4%). In contrast, there was a slight increase in the rental prices for houses (2.6%), warehouses (0.7%) and holiday apartments (0.1%).

“The findings are relatively expected due to the conditions of financial instability. The slight increase in house rentals is probably caused by the fact that tenants, after a year of restrictions, are more willing to rent houses with outdoor space rather than apartments. It is noted, though, that it is difficult to foresee the full effects of the pandemic, since only a relatively short period of time has passed,” Loizou explains.



Bank of Cyprus: Issue of Tier 2 Capital Notes


Bank of Cyprus announced  that the Company has successfully launched and priced an issue of €300 mn unsecured and subordinated Tier 2 Capital Notes (the “Notes”) under its EMTN Programme.

The issue was met with strong demand, attracting interest from more than 140 institutional investors, with the final order book almost 4 times over-subscribed and final pricing 37.5 bps tighter from initial pricing indication.

A number of long term, fundamental institutional investors participated in the offering for the first time, re-establishing the successful return of the Company to the institutional capital markets.

The Notes were priced at par with a fixed coupon of 6.625% per annum, payable annually in arrears and resettable on 23 October 2026. The maturity date for the Notes is 23 October 2031.

The Company will have the option to redeem the Notes early on any day during the six-month period from 23 April 2026 to 23 October 2026, subject to applicable regulatory consents. It is expected that settlement will occur on 23 April 2021.

The Notes will be listed on the Luxembourg Stock Exchange’s Euro MTF market.

In addition to the pricing of the issue of the Notes by the Company, the Bank has announced that it intends to purchase up to the total nominal amount of its €250 mn Fixed Rate Reset Tier 2 Capital Notes due January 2027 (ISIN: XS1551761569) at a purchase price of 105.50%, as more particularly described in a Tender Offer Memorandum dated 13 April 2021.

The issuance of the Notes further optimises the Group’s capital structure and is expected to increase the Group’s Total Capital ratio by c.100 bps to 19.7%1 pro forma for Helix 2. The issuance is expected to be fully MREL eligible, contributing towards the Bank’s MREL requirements. The transaction has also enhanced the diversification of the Group’s investor base, and the pricing outcome evidences market recognition of the significant progress made in evolving its financial profile. Goldman Sachs International and HSBC acted as Global Coordinators and Dealer Managers, and together with BNP Paribas, Bank of America and JP Morgan acted as Joint Lead Managers. The Bank acted as Co-Manager.   


Source: Stockwatch

Debt servicing manageable despite a €6.3 billion spike due to Covid


Cyprus`s debt despite the €6.3 billion spike due to the Covid pandemic has managed to extend the debt’s maturity curve, rending debt servicing "comfortable," Cyprus Public Debt Management Office (PDMO) has said in its annual report for 2020.

According to the PDMO’s annual report, Cyprus public debt in 2020 rose by 24 per cent of GDP with the Finance Ministry opting to significantly boost is cash buffers aiming to support the labour market and businesses in the midst of the economic downturn due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Cyprus public debt amounted to €24.8 billion or 118% of GDP in 2020 marked by a contraction of 5.1% of GDP, the PDMO said, noting however that due to the debt issuances of 2020 and swapping deb with longer maturities, Cyprus’ debt maturity profile was further extended to 2050.
“Despite the relatively large amount of public debt and the need for significant reduction, the debt maturity profile is smooth and the annual debt maturities are within comfortable levels and fulfill the objectives set in the Medium Term Debt Management Strategy 2020-2022,” the PDMO said.
Furthermore, the PDMO said that Cyprus net debt is estimated at 101% of GDP in end-2020, that is, excluding cash buffers that amounted €3.61 billion in the end of the year.
Furthermore, the PDMO said that its main risks, mainly refinancing risk, interest rate risk and foreign exchange risk “were affected positively both by longer term debt issuances as well as from liability management transaction executed in February 2020”.
“The EMTN issuances in 2020 with 7-year, 10-year, 20-year and 30-year tenor have certainly led to a significant improvement of the debt maturity profile, thereby increasing the weighted average maturity of debt and as result the reduction of the refinancing risk and the credit risk,” the PDMO said, recalling that Cyprus in February 2020 repaid early its debt to the International Monetary Fund amounting to €717 million.
“Due to the early prepayment of the IMF loan the floating rate debt has marked a significant reduction and the foreign exchange risk reduced to zero,” the PDMO added.



Source: StockWatch

Cyprus tourism will continue to face challenges in summer 2021


An online conference on “The challenges facing the restart of Cyprus Tourism”,  acknowledged that tourism for the summer 2021 will continue to be difficult but summer 2022 will offer more hope. However, participants  called for seamless procedures and more cost efficient testing done to passengers arriving on the island.

Addressing the virtual conference organised by CYHMA, Dr. Christos Angelides, President of the Cyprus Hotels Managers Association referred to the consequences of the global pandemic to the tourism industry. For Cyprus, he said, the damages are just surfacing. Despite all this, we should not let problems to become a stop sign but an indicator of a new pathway, he said, noting “we need to rebuild our hopes on a new foundation of optimism. Cyprus is ready to face the challenges”.

On his part, Yiannis Karousos, Minister of Transport, Communication & Works said that we are dealing with the biggest crisis in the aviation industry and acknowledged “we are now in the process of restarting and improving Cyprus’ connectivity”.

The Minister underlined that Cyprus has been proactive since last year, the beginning of COVID. It was probably one of the first countries which requested tests to travel to Cyprus, adding our proactive approach, he said, has created opportunities with airlines investing because we are sending a message of stability, especially with the new protocol which came into effect from 1st April.

He also said Cyprus signed agreements to accept vaccination certificates for several countries, (UK, Israel). “We have this interest we didn’t have before. We have many stakeholders watching us.”, he remarked. Cyprus, he said, has been ranked in the first five countries in the way it has responded to COVID with testing reaching 60,000 per day.

We believe that with our proactive approach, “Cyprus will restart” and will be more positive than last year. With the protocols in place which have been updated, there are also temporary incentive schemes which have been extended to the end of the year.

Speaking to participants, Deputy Minister of Tourism, Savvas Perdios said that at this moment of crisis, the industry requires leadership which provides safety and stability. He assured that the participants’ countries will not be placed in any other category other than the three flying categories. “That’s a commitment that you will always be able to fly”, he gave.

Perdios added that Cyprus is open to everyone, as long as they have their tests. “It is not a pre-requisite to be vaccinated in order to come to Cyprus. It doesn’t matter how many variants your country has, it doesn’t matter how many cases it has. This is our thinking, this is the way we have gone about it because the framework we have in place last year has given us the data to know that only 0.1% of all arrivals at the airport actually tested positive”, the Minister said.

Aside from the entry protocol, he added, there are designated quarantine hotels for those who test positive in Cyprus and those who are close contacts of people who test positive. In both cases, he said, Cyprus will cover the cost of the accommodation, medication, food, drink for as long as it takes.

“We need your help so that this message is conveyed on a constant basis, because from 1st April, Cyprus has been open and Cyprus is ready to help you”, he remarked.

Since the 1st of March, he also said, Cyprus began the biggest digital marketing campaign ever, spending significant amounts of money in all additional channels, in all source markets. Also, in the next couple of months, to boost its presence online and its image abroad, “we will launch a new look so people will consider Cyprus from this point onwards”.

Perdios also announced that yesterday Cyprus received approval from the EU, following an initiative by the Ministry of Tourism so that tour operator can qualify for extraordinary support from the Cyprus government from June-September inclusive.

In his remarks, Tim Bachmann, CEO of Hotelplan Suisse said he expects that Cyprus will have a strong comeback. He said travel demand will start in May and the company is planning to extend the season for Cyprus to November.  He called for “reasonable” entry conditions for travellers, proposed antigen fast test on arrival, reliable, reasonable health and safety measures a well as flexibility from partners as bookings will come very short term. For winter 2021. He said he could see the potential to extend the season at least in November/March and that Cyprus should position itself a ‘more than beach’.

Paul Bixby, Commercial & Sourcing Director of  EasyJet Holidays said that he believed restrictions will start to be removed by mid-summer. We continue to plan hundreds of thousands of seats to Cyprus this summer from many departure points and will introduce a new route from London Luton to Larnaca, he said. In addition, we will continue to fly from Milan and Berlin respectively to Paphos and Larnaca.  He talked about a very late booking trend as the summer is approaching due to the uncertainty of the situation.  He also said the booking season to Cyprus continuing until November. People, he added, continue to book all inclusive.

Regarding testing, Bixby said it should be affordable and should be beyond PCR.

Helen Caron, TUI Group Purchasing Director talked about the group’s longstanding and successful partnerships with Cypriot companies, with a 50 year presence on the island through ten source markets and 14 hotels. In 2019 TUI brought to Cyprus over 500,000 passengers from across all markets and carried out 44 weekly flights to Paphos and 55 to Larnaca.

She too talked about flexibility for customers to amend bookings and pledged that as soon as the UK can restart flights, the company will return to Cyprus. Caron also said that there is an uncertainty over testing with people finding that additional testing incurs more cost. She said she would like to see more calls for financial contribution to testing or even offering them free. Caron further said the process should be seamless and that hotel partners should provide testing.

Steve Heapy, CEO Jet2 & Jet2 Holidays said that the company will begin flights after 24th June to allow more time for people to have a clearer picture. The company, he said, had a consistent growth in Cyprus over the years and has a very strong balance sheet on the island. He said more lobbying needs to be done to bring the costs down. Survival is the key now. “We are ready to come back and we will come back in force”, he pledged. When we start operating again, he added, capacity for summer will not be very similar to the original capacity. However, for winter 2021-22 will be higher and 2022’s capacity will be higher than in summer 2019. Our commitment to growing in Cyprus continues, he said.

Sotos Stephanou, Managing Director of Bookcyprus.com pledged to continue promoting Cyprus so that as many people as they can to physically arrive on the island, to build on customer flexibility, refunds, alternative vouchers, and will continue to be so into next year and to focus on innovation. Customer experience is necessary, he said. Cyprus as a destination has done a lot but there is still an issue with flight connectivity and that is why, he added, he was happy to hear both Jet2 and EasyJet ramping up flight connectivity. “We will have another difficult season and I hope that the vaccination will bring an end or at least an operable situation to the travel industry”, he added.

Concluding, Angelides praised the Cyprus government for being on the side of the tourism industry.  We are also happy that Cyprus remains a top choice, a priority for all of our markets. He also said summer 2022 could really be the starting point of a new beginning. “We have to really be ready in cooperation with our partners to offer the Cypriot hospitality and I truly appreciate the truthfulness of the speakers because we need clarity”.


Source: StockWatch

Inclusion of Cyprus in Seabourn Cruise Line's programme


The Shipping Deputy Ministry announced on Thursday the inclusion of Cyprus in the Seabourn Cruise Line`s program, which is a member of the Carnival Cruise Line.

The addition of Cyprus became possible following coordinated efforts by the Shipping Deputy Ministry, the Ministry of Transport, Communications and Works and the Tourism Deputy Ministry, the Shipping Deputy Ministry says in a press release.

International cruise lines have recently decided to include Cyprus in the world cruise map, the press release notes, adding that this development shows that the country`s epidemiological data, as well as the quality services it offers, have been appreciated."

In particular, it adds, among other things the facilitation of the docking of vessels and the possibility of a change of crews, for which Cyprus responded effectively from the start of the pandemic receiving praise from the international shipping community played an important role in this development.

It is expected that there will be multiple benefits to the local tourist, shipping, and port industries and the country`s economy, it points out.

It is further noted that the cruise line, will launch two 7-day cruises sailing from the port of Piraeus as of the first week of July. The itinerariew will include the Greek islands of Ayios Nicolaos, Rhodes, Mykonos, and Nafplio, with a stop in Limassol and Patmos, Rhodes, Santorine, and Spetses with a stop in Pafos.


Source: StockWatch

Αirline companies show keen interest for flights to Cyprus


Airline companies show keen interest for flights to Cyprus, Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos has said, adding that there is a number of planned flights from new companies and also for destination with poor connectivity.

Speaking to the press on Friday the Minister said that as of yesterday the flights resumed and the airports reopened, adding that passengers from the EU and European Economic Area as well as from 15 third countries including the UK can now travel to Cyprus and are exempted of quarantine or self-isolation.

He recalled that countries fall under three categories , green, orange and red and certain criteria apply such as a negative PCR test 72 hours prior to their arrival. The Minister also said that passengers from Israel who carry a vaccination card are free of any restriction. Karousos said that yesterday a total of three flights arrived on the island and the majority of the passengers were inoculated and those who had no vaccination card underwent the appropriate checks at the airport.

Transport Minister explained that April is a pilot month and is a test of how the protocols work, adding that end of May-beginning of June we will see an increase in flights.

However, he noted that the situation is changing and we need to assess all epidemiological data at the time.

Karousos said that it is important for the tourist sector to reopen adding that our country based on the epidemiological figures is categorized by other countries in the green or orange zone. The Minister said that recently Ryanair announced its season schedule with flights to Paphos, WIZZ Air announced that it will be adding another aircraft to its schedule and TUS Airways is requesting an authorization to resume flights from Cyprus. He also said that flights are scheduled to destinations in France, the Netherlands and Scandinavian countries adding that new companies add the route Greece-Cyprus to their program.

He also said that the authorities are in touch with the UK to see how the vaccination card will work for all those who wish to travel May 1st onwards.

As regards the tourists from Russia the Minister said that the country is in the red zone and the visitors need to follow the protocols when they wish to travel to the island.


Source: Stockwatch