British expat residents, tourists and officials in Paphos launched scathing attacks on the tabloid British media on Monday after ‘scaremongering’ reports in sections of the press that tourists were fleeing the island in fear of their lives and that others were cancelling their holidays.
“This is utter nonsense and there is no need to panic,” said local resident David Patrick in response to a headline in Monday’s Daily Star: ‘Brits in holiday hotspot ready to FLEE amid fears of WW3 following Syria airstrikes.’
“We are perfectly safe and this is irresponsible reporting in this type of media. Cyprus is a fantastic place to live and to holiday, and no-one should cancel their holiday here,” he said. “We are not on any sort of alert and daily life on this glorious island goes on as always.”
The tabloid press reports follow Saturday’s use of jets from the British base at Akrotiri to launch air strikes on Syrian targets.
Cyprus was only made aware of this move after the strike, according to the government spokesman, Prodromos Prodromou, who said that British Prime Minister, Teresa May, called President Nicos Anastasiades to brief him on the military action in Syria and to reassure him that there was no question of any danger to Cyprus. She also said that there was limited use of the British base.
British expat resident and Tala village councillor, Cathi Delaney also sought to allay fears of any response from Russia which is an ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad whose alleged use of chemical weapons prompted the air strikes.
“I don’t think residents need to be concerned, the Cyprus government has one foot in Russia and one in the bases, and it’s highly unlikely that there will be any repercussions against us here,” she said.
She added that there is also a large Russian expat population in Cyprus.
Karen Sampson has lived in Paphos for the last 18 years with her family and is incredulous over the scare tactics being used in some of the British press.
“These types of incorrect reports are scaring people for no reason and similar posts on social media aren’t helping either. I feel perfectly safe here and under no threat at all. A friend contacted me to see if it is ‘safe’ to come in October and I reassured him straight away.”
Holidaymakers Bob and Janet Adams from Torquay are currently on a week’s holiday in Paphos and said: “We mustn’t let this affect tourism, Cyprus is a safe place to live, work and visit and is not involved in the current situation. People are mad to cancel their trips, nothing has changed.”
Retiree John Yates has lived in Cyprus for 13 years and said that holidaying Brits are more likely to experience problems at home.
“It is more likely to be caught up in a terrorist attack or some form of crime in Britain or any other European country than the likelihood of Russia attacking Cyprus. The British bases are sovereign territory and so Cyprus can’t be blamed for these bombing raids, it’s nothing to do with them.”
Four Royal Air Force Tornado jets from the Akrotiri base in Cyprus fired Storm Shadow missiles during the early hours of Saturday at a military facility near Homs where it was assessed that Syria had stockpiled chemicals, according to Britain’s ministry of defence.