THE LABOUR ministry is looking to make speaking Greek an obligatory requirement in certain sectors in the hotel and tourism industry, as way to address rising unemployment, the House Labour Committee was told on Monday.
Labour minister Zeta Emilianidou told journalists at the committee meeting her ministry wanted to make better use of the tourist product by making speaking Greek compulsory. She also cited unspecified safety concerns.
Emilianidou did not clarify which sectors she had in mind, citing the need to study the industry to ensure the sector was not adversely impacted by their moves.
But she said that more Cypriots were being employed in hotels with some 48 per cent of all hotel employees now hailing from Cyprus.
The country’s tourism product contributes to the economy mostly by catering for non-domestic tourists, mostly from the UK and Russia.
Most tourists do not speak any Greek, using English as a default language of communication, but lawmakers yesterday hailed the labour ministry’s suggestions perceiving it as a sensible move that would increase employment for Cypriots in the tourist sector.
Head of the House labour committee Andreas Fakontis said addressing rising unemployment was “imperative” and saluted Emilianidou intentions.
The proposal is still at initial stages with the government looking to engage stakeholders in a dialogue before submitting a bill with the labour committee expected to return to the matter early next year, Fakontis said.
DIKO MP Athena Kyriakidou also expressed her support because, she said, she should not have to use any other language other than Greek.
“I consider it unthinkable to go to a hotel in my own country and have to speak a foreign language to order coffee or my dinner,” she said.
Other deputies made statements along the same lines.