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Cyprus report Cyprus report
by Euro Reporter
2010-01-08 07:30:17
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Jobless toll slowed

Unemployment in December 2009, dropped 2.8 per cent, compared to November but for 2009 overall, the jobless rate jumped 51.7 per cent over 2008, the Statistical Service announced yesterday. The average number of registered unemployed for 2009, reached 17,505, compared to 11,541 in 2008, an increase of 51.7 per cent. The increase was mainly recorded in the sectors of construction, trade, hotels and restaurants, real estate and business activities, manufacturing as well extending to newcomers in the labour market.

The number of unemployed people registered at the District Labour Offices on the last day of December 2009, reached 21,530. These figures show that, based on the seasonally adjusted data, the number of registered unemployed reached 19,745 in December, a decrease of 2.8 per cent compared to the previous month. November 2009 was a record month for unemployment, representing a 73 per cent rise in unemployment compared to the same month in 2008. The statistics service said the figures for December 2009 showed that there were signs of stabilisation on the jobs market.

In comparison with December 2008 the December 2009 figures showed that there were 1,864 people more unemployed in the construction sector, 1,016 more unemployed in the trade sector, 956 more jobless people in the hotels and restaurants sector, 639 more without jobs in real estate and 553 more unemployed in the manufacturing sector. The Ministry of Labour and Social Insurance yesterday confirmed that unemployment was expected to continue rising in 2010. ‘This year is also expected to be a difficult year for the employment sector, despite the small slowdown in the increase of unemployment,” Minister of Labour Sotiroulla Charalambous.

“The Ministry of Labour will continue to closely monitor the employment sector, will be evaluating and enhancing its policies to support employees and minimise layoffs,” Charalambous added.  The rapid increase of unemployment in November was attributed to the mass layoffs in the construction and hotel and restaurant sectors. Each year, November 1 marks the temporary closure or work suspension for the hotel industry, as some hotels cannot sustain their operation in the winter months. University graduates also had a harder time securing employment in 2009, as there were 371 more new market entrants who registered as unemployed, compared to the figures recorded in 2008.


Paphos a ghost town

Paphos will turn into a ghost town, and unless drastic action is taken, the damage will be irreparable, restaurant owners have warned. The warning was issued by Fitos Thrassivoulou the president of the Paphos restaurant owners association and echoed by Evripides Loizides the spokesman of the Paphos hoteliers association.

More than 40 hotels are closed in the coastal town; some of them will remain shutting until the end of spring. In addition, restaurants, clubs, bars and other leisure facilities have also shut up shop for the winter in a bid to reduce losses. Loizides warned: “Cyprus’ tourist product is getting old and unless we refresh it we will be in real trouble. “It’s not a question of how many hotels are closed for the winter season in Paphos but for how long.” This is the first year in which lengthy hotel closures have occurred in the coastal town.

According to Loizides, most of the hotels on the Paphos seafront will remain open, as will hotels in the centre, as these as the areas visitors are most likely to stay during the winter months. “Hotels towards Coral Bay and Yeroskipou are suffering and as there is a huge reduction in charter plane arrivals, obviously the capacity is also reduced.” Loizides said the only way out of the dire situation would involve each sector of the tourism market working together. “Airport taxes are the biggest issue. In November, tour operators couldn’t understand why the new Larnaca airport decided to increase taxes after being given help from the government. The state helps and the private sector increase prices, it’s out of place and absolutely makes no sense. This will just continue to reduce capacity,” he pointed out.

According to Loizides, markets such as Tunisia and Morocco are now in direct competition with Cyprus and they have a third of the cost of the islands airport taxes. “We charge about £48 sterling in taxes and they charge £16.” He underlined: “Unless the government, hotels, the CTO and all concerned parties come together we will not get out of this situation.”


Cyprus tops EU state for contribution of tourism to the economy

Cyprus is the most specialised hospitality country in Europe, with over 17 per cent of the workforce employed in the sector, it emerged yesterday. According to a Eurostat report, Cyprus tops the charts in terms of value added to the economy by hotels and restaurants.  Cyprus has 735 tourist establishments with an average bed capacity of 119.

The report shows that 12.2 per cent of value added to Cyprus business economy (excluding finance) came from this sector. This is more than twice that of Ireland, which had the next highest share. The report explains this specialisation is due to various factors. It says "Specialisations within this activity are strongly related to climate, natural or man-made attractions (beaches, mountains, castles, etc), as well as proximity to a critical mass of potential customers (in particular for restaurants and bars)" In addition to hospitality related workforce and value added, the report also reveals that in 2007 visitors to Cyprus booked longer stays than anywhere else in Europe. The average number of nights spent in hotels by foreigners was over a week, while foreign visitors to most other member states spend between two and four days.

Resident vacations were actually below the European average, despite there being adequate infrastructure. The report suggests that this might be because domestic travel is likely to be on business, or reflect people spending long weekends on holiday, neither of which applies to a small island. Comparing the average number of nights spent with the number of inhabitants on the island, reveals the "tourism intensity". Cyprus, perhaps unsurprisingly, was nearly six times the EU 27 Average, and second only to Malta.

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