Here are the top business stories in Cyprus from the week starting June 10:

President of the Famagusta Hoteliers Association (Pasyxe), Panayiotis Constantinou, remains cautiously optimistic about the future of tourist bookings in the Famagusta district, despite the challenging circumstances currently plaguing the tourism industry. Speaking to the Cyprus News Agency (CNA), Constantinou explained that his stance comes despite the recent bankruptcy of the German tour operator FTI, which has caused a significant disruption in the local tourism sector. He noted, “The situation with bookings in the hotels of Famagusta district is not as expected, since we have several units that are not in the condition they would like to be in terms of occupancy.”

Meanwhile, Cyprus is excelling in the fields of research and innovation, according to Deputy Minister of Research, Innovation, and Digital Policy Nikodimos Damianou. During a recent visit to the Cyprus Institute, where he met with its president Stavros Malas and members of the administrative staff, Damianou expressed his delight at Cyprus’ leading position in research and innovation. He highlighted the significant growth of the ecosystem, stating, “A decade or fifteen years ago, this ecosystem was in its infancy. Now, it has developed to such an extent that it gives us great hope for the future.” The minister and his colleagues were briefed on the Cyprus Institute’s activities, challenges, and plans for expansion.

In a related development, Cyprus’ tourism revenue has soared to its highest level for the month of March in at least 23 years, achieving a robust increase of 15.5 percent compared to the same period last year, according to a report released this week by the Cyprus Statistical Service (Cystat). The report highlighted that the first quarter of this year witnessed an overall revenue boost of 11.7 percent compared to the corresponding period in 2023. Notably, March alone saw tourism revenue reach an impressive €113 million, up from €97.8 million in March 2023.

Furthermore, the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission (CySEC) on Tuesday announced the official release of its regulatory sandbox, with the presentation of the launch taking place during an online event. This initiative, according to CySEC, marks a significant milestone in the advancement of financial, regulatory, and supervisory technologies (FinTech, RegTech, and SupTech) in Cyprus. During the presentation, CySEC chairman George Theocharides stated that the commission’s vision “is to ensure that Cyprus’ securities market is one of the safest, most reliable and attractive destinations for investment.” He added that the regulatory sandbox is “helping us achieve this vision, while also addressing the challenge of keeping pace with ever-increasing developments in Europe’s financial sector.” Theocharides emphasised that “Digitalisation is reshaping the regulatory landscape in the financial industry.”

Additionally, the Republic of Cyprus and Montenegro have recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to mutually recognise the certificates of competency for officers on merchant ships, marking a significant step in their maritime cooperation. The agreement was signed in Limassol during an informal bilateral meeting by Cyprus’ Deputy Minister of Shipping, Marina Hadjimanolis, and Montenegro’s Minister of Transport and Maritime Affairs, Filip Radulovic. According to a relevant announcement, the MoU is part of Cyprus’ broader strategy to enhance its bilateral external relations and foster mutually beneficial partnerships in the maritime sector.

In another notable development, Eurobank Cyprus on Wednesday announced its forthcoming initiative to support and reward its up-to-date mortgage customers by reducing the final interest rate on home loans by 50 basis points. The original announcement of this initiative was made in May 2023, targeting private borrowers who have maintained good standing with their mortgage repayments. According to the bank, the primary aim of this initiative is to “assist Cypriot households during a period of high lending rates, demonstrating Eurobank Cyprus’ ongoing commitment to taking proactive steps in challenging economic times.”

Moreover, the Office of the Commissioner for State Aid Control has advocated that Cyprus’ energy isolation and high energy costs, combined with other unique challenges related to the island’s energy sector, be viewed as critical factors needing special consideration when creating and applying state aid regulations. This viewpoint was put forward by the office during its participation in the European Commission’s High Level Forum held on June 3 in Brussels. According to a statement published on Wednesday by the Office of the Commissioner for State Aid Control, the forum, organized annually by the European Commission, focused on announcements related to policies, rules, and measures in the field of state aid.

Finally, Invest Cyprus, the agency tasked with promoting investments in Cyprus, announced on Friday that it has successfully concluded a three-day programme titled ‘The Marketing and Partnerships Academy’, which was held from June 11 to 13 in Nicosia. Organised by the ANIMA Investment Network in collaboration with the CYENS Centre of Excellence and Invest Cyprus, the initiative aimed to enhance the skills of 14 representatives from academic and scientific institutions in Lebanon, strengthening their international partnerships. Mario Tannousis, CEO of Invest Cyprus, highlighted the organisation’s role in promoting such initiatives, stating that “it is a great honour for us to promote events that enhance collaboration and skill development.”