Deputy Minister of Tourism Kostas Koumis on Friday said that tourist arrivals for the first four months of 2024 indicate that the island can achieve its goals for the year, despite any challenges.

Despite a muted April, which saw a 2.7 per cent year-on-year decline, tourist arrivals between January and April totalled 748,814, marking an increase of 1.7 per cent, compared to 736,629 in the corresponding period last year.

In addition, the UK remained the key source of tourism, corresponding to 35.3 per cent of all arrivals during the month of April

“The goal we set at the beginning of the year, considering all the facts before us, such as the escalating tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean, the economic situation in Central and Western Europe, and the aviation sector crisis, was to achieve a performance comparable to that of the previous year,” Koumis explained in a written statement.

“This goal”, he added, “was set despite the adversities faced by the tourism sector and knowing that last year’s performance was exceptionally high, even all the way until mid-October”.

Bank of Cyprus Group CEO Panicos Nicolaou described 2023 as a milestone year for the organisation, as it became the first bank in Cyprus and Greece to secure approval from the ECB to restart dividend payments after 12 years.

The dividend of €22.3 million was equivalent to a payout ratio of 14 per cent of the full-year 2022, adjusted recurring profits.

Addressing the bank’s annual general meeting on Friday, Nicolaou said that the dividend “confirmed the Bank of Cyprus’ transformation into a well-capitalised, diversified and sustainably profitable banking and financial services group”.

Nicolaou also highlighted the resilience and strong performance of the Cypriot economy amid geopolitical and macroeconomic challenges in 2023.

He said that despite the increased geopolitical uncertainty due to conflicts such as the war in Ukraine and the Israel-Hamas conflict, Cyprus continued to outperform the euro area, achieving a GDP growth of 2.5 per cent compared to the euro area’s 0.5 per cent.

The Research & Innovation Foundation (RIF) on Friday unveiled its revamped innovation vouchers programme, offering €10,000 per project along with free support services to Cypriot small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

According to an announcement by the RIF, this initiative aims to boost their competitiveness by providing access to specialised expertise.

The foundation explained that the innovation vouchers “enable SMEs to receive tailored services from entities with advanced technical knowledge, acting as catalysts for the improvement of existing products and services, or the development of new ones”.

Eurobank Holdings this week released its financial results for the first quarter of 2024, showcasing significant growth and robust performance across various metrics, including in its operations in Cyprus.

“Our performance in the first quarter is a great start for the year and makes us confident that our 2024 plan
will be delivered, with a return on tangible book value of 15 per cent,” CEO Fokion Karavias said.

“In addition to the strong operating performance, it is important to highlight that all our strategic initiatives, including Hellenic Bank in Cyprus, are on track,” he added.

Cypriot banks are well-capitalised and have shown a remarkable reduction in non-performing loans (NPLs), stated Claudia Buch, the new Chair of the Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM).

However, she urged caution as banks face “emerging risks” such as geopolitical crises, climate change, and cybersecurity, in addition to the risks from high interest rates.

In an interview with the Cyprus News Agency (CNA) during her visit to Cyprus for the SSM Board meeting, Buch praised the significant reduction in NPLs but emphasised that there is still progress to be made for the NPL ratio to align with the Eurozone average.

House Speaker Annita Demetriou this week held a meeting with a delegation from the Cyprus Shipowners’ Association (CSA), where they discussed problems and challenges facing the Cypriot shipping industry.

Demetriou expressed her commitment, and that of the House, to assist in every way possible in the support of the CSA.

Furthermore, according to a statement from the House, the meeting was attended by the president of the CSA, Andreas Hadjiyiannis, along with one of its Vice presidents, Polys Hadjioannou, and the director general, Michael Filippou.

The Cyprus Statistical Service (Cystat) announced on Friday that the Price Index of Construction Materials for April 2024 reached 117.22 units, which marks a marginal increase of 0.02 per cent compared to the previous month.

Furthermore, when compared to the same month of the previous year, the index shows a decrease of 1.57 per cent.

In terms of specific categories, metallic products recorded a significant decline of 7.23 per cent.

The Cyprus Stock Exchange (CSE) ended Friday, May 17 with losses.

The general Cyprus Stock Market Index was at 157.42 points at 12:23 during the day, reflecting a decrease of 0.32 per cent over the previous day of trading.

The FTSE / CySE 20 Index was at 96.68 points, representing a drop of 0.33 per cent.

The total value of transactions came up to €239,858 until the aforementioned time during trading.

In terms of the sub-indexes, the main, alternative and investment firm indexes fell by 0.4 per cent, 0.05 per cent and 0.61 per cent respectively. The hotel index rose by 0.85 per cent.

The biggest investment interest was attracted by the Bank of Cyprus (-0.24 per cent), KEO (+0.95 per cent), Atlantic Insurance (no change), Hellenic Bank (-0.8 per cent), and Petrolina (-1.82 per cent).