The legislative is promoting a law amendment to allow Cypriots and local residents rent speedboats or jet skis without having to present a speedboat driver’s licence in a bid to help water sport businesses stay afloat given the plunge in tourist arrivals this year.
MPs argued that the amendment would rectify an injustice to local residents since tourists, were never required to present a speedboat driver licence to rent one.
The issue was discussed at the House transport committee on Friday.
The amendment aims to support water sports and leisure businesses since, due to travel restrictions, it is expected that there will be a steep decline in tourist arrivals, the main customers of these companies, which will now have to rely on domestic tourism to survive.
Committee head Giorgos Prokopiou told the Cyprus News Agency that according to the existing law, Cypriots or permanent residents need to furnish a speedboat driver licence to be able to rent a jet ski or a speed boat up to six metres, whereas the only requirement for tourists is that they need to be 18 and over. For Cypriots, the age requirement is 21 and over.
He said the committee asked transport ministry officials why this injustice was being perpetrated on permanent residents for so long.
Prokopiou said that the pandemic and the ensuing economic crisis were another reason to lift this injustice to also help businesses renting the vessels.
He added that the amendment also lowers the age limit for Cypriots to 18, the same as for tourists.
The amendment, approved by the cabinet at the beginning of the month and tabled to parliament last week, will be a temporary one until the deputy ministry for tourism introduces a new legal framework that would eradicate the discrimination between visitors and locals.
The new legal framework prepared by the tourism ministry is expected to be voted by parliament within 2021.