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Cyprus Business Now: weekly wrap-up

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Here are the top business stories in Cyprus from the week starting May 6:

The Easter holiday season saw a 50 per cent decline in business activity for restaurants, bars, and other venues across Cyprus, according to Neophytos Thrasyvoulou, president of the Federation of Leisure Centre Owners (Osika). This decline was largely due to a reduction in tourists, as Catholic Easter occurred earlier than Orthodox Easter, leading many Cypriots to opt for family gatherings instead.

In the hospitality sector, hotel occupancy rates in Cyprus are expected to be lower this summer compared to 2023, according to Thanos Michaelides, president of the hotelier’s association (Pasyxe). He noted concerns about the impact of the Israel conflict and economic challenges in the UK, both of which are key sources of tourists. Although efforts are being made to attract visitors from Poland, France, and Germany, summer 2024 bookings are currently lagging behind those of the previous year.

Additionally, Deputy Minister of Research Nicodemos Damianou discussed two new investment incentives aimed at boosting the startup ecosystem. These include a tax exemption for innovative businesses and a startup visa scheme. Last year, 38 innovation certificates, offering a 50 per cent tax exemption, were issued.

In financial news, Cyprus-headquartered Capital.com, a global trading platform, announced a significant achievement with total client trading volumes exceeding $1.2 trillion in 2023, marking a 53 per cent increase from the previous year. This milestone secured Capital.com the top spot in the 2023 Deloitte Tech Fast 50 rankings for the third consecutive year.

Meanwhile, the Research and Innovation Foundation (Idek) announced internship opportunities for students with 61 companies, available from June to September 2024. Both undergraduates and postgraduates are eligible to participate by submitting a CV and an enrollment certificate.

Turning to humanitarian efforts, the Cyprus Union of Shipowners (CUS) announced a €300,000 food donation to the people of Gaza, through the Republic of Cyprus’ Amalthea initiative. The union stated, “The Cyprus Union of Shipowners decided to actively participate and contribute to the efforts of the President of the Republic of Cyprus, Nikos Christodoulides and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to provide humanitarian aid to Gaza through the ‘Amalthea’ Initiative”.

In the real estate sector, the Cyprus Real Estate Agents Registration Council reported a rebound in property sales in April 2024, with significant activity in Nicosia, Larnaca, and Limassol, marking a 15 per cent increase compared to April 2023. Sales documents from January to April 2024 showed a 4 per cent rise compared to the same period last year.

Additionally, the Great Britain-Cyprus Business Association’s International Investment Conference in Limassol saw Deputy Minister of Shipping Marina Hadjimanoli reaffirm the administration’s support for the shipping industry. She emphasised ongoing efforts to enhance competitiveness and promote maritime growth despite current challenges.

In the tourism sector, Deputy Minister of Tourism Kostas Koumis highlighted the growing UAE tourist market for Cyprus. Following discussions at the Arabian Travel Market and AIM Congress in Dubai, new promotional actions are being implemented to boost tourism from the UAE and enhance air connectivity.

Moreover, the Bank of Cyprus (BoC) informed shareholders that they can now receive dividends electronically, subject to approval by the European Central Bank for a cash dividend payment.

Lastly, in an interview with the Cyprus Mail, Timur Turlov, CEO of Freedom Holding Corp., discussed the company’s growth and strategic priorities. He emphasised that their European division, headquartered in Cyprus, employs over 300 people in Limassol, reflecting the company’s significant presence in the region.

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