Hoteliers are upbeat about the new employment regulations, after the cabinet decided to raise the percentage of third country nationals allowed to be employed by businesses from 30 to 50 per cent of the total workforce.

Speaking to state broadcaster CyBC on Monday, the Hoteliers Association director general Filokypros Roussounides said the tourism industry is in dire need of workers, as the Covid-19 pandemic first and the war in Ukraine heavily affected the sector.

“Easing the regulations concerning the employment of third country nationals is a step in the right direction,” he said.

“Hotels are facing staff shortages, which means the new regulations will benefit both the employers and the employees.”

Roussounides also expressed moderate optimism for this summer’s potential hotel bookings, adding that the numbers so far look positive.

Speaking after him, the general director of the Association of Cyprus Tourist Enterprises (Stek) Chrisemily Psilogeni also confirmed that the hotel industry in recent years has faced serious problems with finding local staff.

“For years, people working in the tourism industry have attempted to find solutions to the issue and attract Cypriots to the sector,” she said.

“The new regulations can have a positive impact.”

Trade unions, however, have slammed the decision in the past weeks, claiming they were not consulted before it was publicly announced.

“It was all very rushed. The workers’ rights cannot be subject to arbitrary decisions, they need to be addressed correctly and comprehensively,” Panicos Argyrides, a representative of trade union Sek, told the Cyprus Mail.

“Many things were left hanging, including what the working conditions of third country nationals will be now that the decision was formally announced.”

On the other hand, the Employers and Industrialists Federation (OEV) praised the changes and even urged a further step in the liberalisation of the workforce.