Here are the top business stories in Cyprus from the week starting May 27:

At a recent Cyprus Sustainable Tourism Initiative (CSTI) event titled ‘Beach without Plastics,’ Deputy Minister of Tourism Kostas Koumis underscored the imperative of preserving tourist hotspots, particularly beaches. Held at Kampouri Beach in Ayia Napa, the event highlighted ongoing efforts to reduce plastic use in these vital areas. Koumis emphasised, “Beaches are undoubtedly one of our country’s comparative advantages—key drivers of the rapid growth experienced in our tourism sector over the past decades.” Furthermore, he stressed the collective duty to support initiatives aimed at diminishing plastic pollution on beaches, noting, “The only acceptable goal is ensuring the sustainability of such destinations. Indeed, there is a pressing need to heighten awareness about these issues.”

In a parallel move to align with broader European strategies, Cyprus is revising its current national industrial policy. This was highlighted by Marios Panayides, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Energy, during a recent EU Competitiveness Council meeting in Brussels. The council adopted conclusions “on a competitive European industry as a driver of our green, digital, and resilient future.” Panayides welcomed these conclusions, emphasising the urgent need for a robust framework to enhance the competitiveness of European industry. He noted that Cyprus, as an isolated island nation with a small market, faces additional obstacles and challenges, necessitating tailored policies and strategies.

Meanwhile, significant financial developments were reported by the Central Bank of Cyprus (CBC). In March, Cypriot banks made substantial repayments on loans from the European Central Bank’s (ECB) Targeted Longer-Term Refinancing Operations (TLTROs). According to CBC data, a total of €1.8 billion in TLTROs were repaid, with the Bank of Cyprus repaying €1.7 billion and Astrobank repaying €100 million. Consequently, the outstanding TLTRO balance on the CBC’s balance sheet fell to €2.7 billion at the end of March from €4.5 billion at the end of February.

In another noteworthy development, Sir Stelios Hadji-Ioannou, renowned for establishing the easy family of brands, has launched the second annual “Stelios Awards for Young Entrepreneurs in Cyprus.” This initiative aims to foster young entrepreneurship by distributing €100,000 among the top three business ideas in Cyprus. Following the significant attention garnered during its inaugural year, the awards reflect Sir Stelios’ commitment to cultivating an entrepreneurial spirit among young people, deemed essential for sustained economic growth and competitiveness.

Furthermore, Chief Scientist Demetris Skourides recently visited the Cyprus Institute of Neurology and Genetics (CING), where he praised the Department of Bioinformatics (C-BIG) for its exceptional expertise and diverse specialisations. According to a CING press release, Skourides emphasised the importance of developing multi-disciplinary scientific teams, highlighting the transformative impact of artificial intelligence on value creation and data monetisation strategies. He underscored the necessity for scientists to work cohesively, integrating data across various customer profiles to create comprehensive patient care journeys.

In addition, Invest Cyprus, the state agency dedicated to promoting Cyprus as an international investment destination, recently participated in the prestigious technology event Viva Technology in Paris. Held from May 22 to 25, the event allowed Invest Cyprus to showcase the island’s credentials as a technology and business centre. The agency stated, “Invest Cyprus’ presence at Viva Technology underscores its active role in promoting Cyprus as a significant technological hub in the broader Southern Europe region.”

Similarly, Cyprus witnessed a marginal rise in its ship management revenues in the latter half of 2023. These revenues climbed to €638 million, up from €623 million in the preceding half-year. However, this represents a slight dip from the €648 million recorded in the latter half of 2022, according to data released by the Central Bank of Cyprus. Despite the many challenges facing the global shipping sector, including escalating transport costs, the ship management industry remains a robust pillar of the Cypriot economy. Notably, Germany’s contribution remained solid, consistently accounting for 40 per cent of the sector’s revenues.

Adding to the maritime sector’s developments, the Cyprus Shipping Chamber (CSC) this week expressed approval of the recent call by EU Member States for a comprehensive European Maritime Industrial Strategy. This strategy aims to bolster the competitiveness of the maritime sector, formally adopted through an EU Council Conclusion on May 24. The chamber highlighted that the green and digital transition in shipping presents a significant opportunity for Europe to enhance its industrial capacity and strengthen international competitiveness, which is vital for European food, energy, and supply chain security.

In real estate, the ten most expensive property sales in Cyprus amounted to an impressive €16.2 million in April of this year, with Limassol continuing to feature prominently at the higher end of the market. According to a report released by real estate analytics firm Ask Wire, the highlight was a house in Paphos’ Kouklia, which sold for a staggering €3 million. The Limassol district dominated the list with six transactions, complemented by Paphos with three sales and Nicosia with one. Transactions in Limassol alone totalled €10.3 million, underscoring its prominence in the high-end market.

In a significant initiative to support Cypriot professionals, the Embassy of Cyprus in Athens has spearheaded the establishment of the Association of Cypriot Professionals in Greece. This initiative saw substantial interest from Cypriot entrepreneurs operating in Greece, highlighting the formation of the association. Backed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Invest Cyprus, and the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Keve), the association aims to forge a robust network among Cypriots working in Greece, advocating for their collective interests and facilitating collaborations between Cypriot and Greek entrepreneurs.

In the gaming industry, Juicy Button Games, a new independent games studio based in Cyprus, announced the successful completion of a $3 million seed round led by The Games Fund. The investment will fuel the development of an innovative mobile-first 4x strategy game from its headquarters in Limassol. The company aims to create a worthy European challenger in the 4x genre, typically dominated by studios from China, assembling a founding superteam responsible for mobile titles grossing over $700 million.

In another collaborative effort, the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Keve) signed a cooperation agreement with the EU SME Centre to support Cypriot small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in entering and thriving in the Chinese market. This collaboration aims to provide substantial assistance to local SMEs, helping them establish, develop, and maintain commercial activities in China through exports and investments, particularly during the early stages of their market entry. By partnering with the EU SME Centre, Keve aims to leverage its expertise to navigate the complexities of the Chinese market.

Lastly, experts gathered in Nicosia this week to discuss strategies for enhancing the economic and digital inclusion of women, at a significant event jointly organised by the Union for the Mediterranean and the Office of the Gender Equality Commissioner of Cyprus. This session served as a crucial forum for addressing the multi-faceted challenges and opportunities in women’s economic empowerment. The panel highlighted persistent stereotypes that threatened young girls and women’s access to education in STEM fields and emphasised the systemic barriers that limit their career advancements. There was strong consensus on the necessity of expanding employment opportunities for women, proposing the implementation of diverse training programmes, both in-person and online.