By Jean Christou
HOTELIERS also poured out their woes to troika representatives yesterday, the slowness of banks to restructure their loans and the inadequate terms being offered.
Speaking after the meeting, which also included representatives of the Cyprus Tourism Organisation, the chairman of the Cyprus Hotels Association (PASYXE), Haris Loizides said: “The banks are making very slow progress in the restructuring of loans and too many hotels are included on the list of those with non-performing loans.”
Despite attempts to work with the banks on the various issues of concern, Loizides said the reality was that the banks were not helping hoteliers to cope with their needs. Hotels, he said, need to be renovated and no money is available.
“We have asked two basic things: extensions on the repayment of loans, and lower interest rates,” he said. Loizides said the banks had responded on loan extensions but were not willing to give the hoteliers the length of time they asked for.
He said the troika had also been given information from the banks saying that many hoteliers had already settled their loans.
“This does not coincide with our own information,” said Loizides.
“Our own information is that there has been some [loan] restructuring, but not to the extent required to meet the liquidity needs of the market today.”
Hoteliers, he said, have been forced to give foreign tour operators discounts of 10-20 per cent in April and May. This could only be offset by the arrival of greater numbers for the remainder of the summer season.
Loizides said he told the troika the concerns over the effect the situation in Ukraine would impact on the island’s tourism, and also the impact of the devaluation of the Russian rouble.
An increase of 25 per cent had been anticipated from Russia but now, he said hoteliers “would be delighted” if they managed to see an increase of anything between five and ten per cent.
The question of employment of more Cypriots in the sector was also brought up. “We proved with numbers – and have disproved all of the doom and gloom – that currently 70 per cent of those employed in the hotel industry are Cypriots and only 30 per cent from the EU,” he said,
The sector has been criticised by unions that claim Cypriots were being left unemployed in favour of cheaper EU workers.