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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 98-01-30
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From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cynews.com/>
Friday, January 30, 1998
 Cyprus surging ahead as UK tourist destinationBy Charlie Charalambous
CYPRUS is already outperforming its competitors as a Summer destination for British tourists, with bookings 60 per cent up and an extra 100,000 expected to arrive this year.
This was the optimistic message given by UK tour specialists and the Cyprus Tourism Organisation at a seminar in Limassol yesterday.
The seminar was organised by the Association of Greek Cypriot Travel Agents (UK) and local hoteliers in order to thrash out a common strategy which could sustain tourism from Britain.
Although the seminar covered all the normal gripes of needing to improve infrastructure, upgrade the product and keep down labour costs, there was a feeling of optimism about the future.
"With an increase of around 15 per cent in arrivals from the UK there is good reason to be optimistic, especially after having two bad years," AGTA chairman Noel Josephides told the Cyprus Mail yesterday.
Since the number of British tourists peaked at over one million in 1992, the number of arrivals from the UK has decreased, but AGTA predicts that this year will see a marked increase.
According to AGTA figures, Cyprus can this year expect around 857,000 visitors from the UK.
The CTO puts the number of UK arrivals for last year at 790,000 (out of a total of two million visitors), a 10 per cent increase on 1996. The signs are that 1998 will be even better.
"Bookings for Cyprus (from the UK) for the 1998 Summer period have seen an impressive increase in the order of 60 per cent, compared to an increase of 19 per cent for the total market," CTO director general Phrini Michael told the seminar.
She said that bookings for Cyprus far outstripped other competitive destinations such as Spain and Greece.
This was confirmed by Josephides: "Cyprus is outperforming all other destinations and people are booking earlier, but there is a limited capacity in the terms of numbers we can expect."
He said the wheel had turned full circle, with British tourists fed up with destinations like Turkey now choosing Cyprus.
"It's a fashion thing, Britons are looking for somewhere new. And I don't see why we can't achieve the one million figure."
A healthy UK economy, favourable exchange rates due to a stronger Sterling and competitive prices are all reasons why Cyprus is once again an attractive destination for British tourists.
"It's a safe destination, hotels are either offering the same or lower prices than last year and a strong Sterling has also helped," said Josephides.
Michael also points to the fact that the CTO will spend £1.2 million in promoting Cyprus in the UK this year.
But Josephides warned hoteliers not to become too reliant on the big tour operators such as Thomson at the expense of the specialist trader.
"These companies have the power to wipe Cyprus off the map and just go on to somewhere else."
He offered Egypt as a case study: "when the big guns pulled out it was the specialist operator which kept the destination going."
However, the seminar concluded that more needed to be done, and quickly, to diversify and improve the product and restrict the number of new beds.
"We don't need any more hotels, but we do need parks, pavements, a cleaner environment, lower costs and to treat our tourists with appreciation," said Josephides.
 Former Turkish soldier claims civilians slaughtered in 1974By Jean Christou
CLAIMS by a former Turkish soldier now living in Germany that 100 fleeing Greek Cypriot civilians were slaughtered in 1974 are being investigated by the government.
"We have already instructed the various government departments, including our embassy in Bonn, to take all the necessary action to collect information on the basis of which we can move ahead on the matter," Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides said yesterday.
Speaking just before the cabinet meeting, Cassoulides said: "We take this case very seriously."
According to a report published in the pro-Kurdish daily Oezguer Politika, published in Germany, around 100 Greek Cypriot civilians, mainly elderly men, along with some women and children were slaughtered and buried near Nicosia during the Turkish invasion.
Mustafa Ongan, a 45-year-old Kurd, told the newspaper he was serving in the Turkish army at the time of the invasion and was brought with his regiment to Cyprus.
He said Turkish and Turkish Cypriot army chiefs ordered the killing of fleeing civilians, who were later buried in a mass grave.
Ongan is now seeking protection in exchange for detailed information about the location of the graves.
He said he had come forward after 24 years because he could no longer stand the "emotional torment".
In response to questions, Cassoulides, though initially reluctant, confirmed that the Kurd's information was not covered by the files on some 400 missing Greek Cypriots which were handed over by the Turkish Cypriot side last week.
"We had received some information in the past relating to his specific issue before it became public knowledge and everything will be looked into, " Cassoulides said.
Humanitarian Affairs Commissioner Takis Christopoulos told the Cyprus News Agency (CNA) that the information needed to be investigated, but added it appeared to be more truthful than similar information which had emerged in the past.
"If need be we are ready to co-operate with anybody to get to the bottom of this," he said.
Nicos Theodosiou, Chairman of the Committee of Relatives of Missing Persons, said any such information should be investigated "thoroughly".
He said that similar reports had in the past proved to be unfounded.
There are 1,619 Greek Cypriots listed as missing since 1974 and 803 Turkish Cypriots who disappeared between 1964 and 1974.
Under an agreement reached last July between President Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, the exchange of information on the missing from both sides began last Friday.
The Greek Cypriot side handed over information on 200 Turkish Cypriots and received details on 400 missing Greek Cypriots.
 Government to look into CA Brussels decisionBy Jean Christou
GOVERNMENT ministers and bureaucrats will be badly affected by Cyprus Airways' decision to drop its weekly Brussels flight, Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides said yesterday.
Cassoulides was commenting on the issue following a call for explanations by presidential candidate Alexis Galanos.
Galanos yesterday asked the Foreign and Finance Ministers why Cyprus Airways (CA) was axing its Brussels flight just as Cyprus was about to start EU accession talks.
The airline said on Wednesday it was dropping the weekly flight from Larnaca to Brussels, via Paphos, from April 1 after losing one million pounds on the route last year. Cyprus-EU accession talks are due to begin on or after March 31.
"It will cause many problems for us," Cassoulides told the Cyprus Mail, referring to the numerous trips ministers and other government employees would have to make to the EU hub.
Cassoulides said he had only heard of the decision yesterday, but added it would be looked into.
And he admitted the CA move "might" create the wrong impression.
Galanos said yesterday the CA decision was another sign of the airline's "folly".
"It is also an indication of a complete lack of co-ordination and planning in promoting our national aims and aspirations," Galanos said in a written statement.
"Regardless of any economic problems our national carrier is facing on the Brussels route, on the eve of the start of accession talks, it gives an entirely negative political message to Brussels."
Galanos added such decisions "should not and cannot" be taken purely on economic grounds.
He questioned the extent to which both the Foreign and Finance Ministries had been aware of the CA decision, and asked for explanations.
The Brussels route has been operational for only five years.
 Iacovou campaign focuses on economic 'slump'By Aline Davidian
PRESIDENTIAL candidate George Iacovou yesterday denounced president Clerides' five years in office as being the worst in the economic history of Cyprus.
Nominally independent Iacovou is backed by left-wing Akel and centre-right Diko.
Speaking at an economics seminar yesterday, Iacovou criticised the Clerides administration for what he said was its lack of planning and ineptitude that had led to a slump in the island's economy.
In defence of his claims, Iacovou produced statistics showing a severe crisis in the clothing industry, which had led to the closure of 60 per cent of factories, while the shoe industry had suffered even more.
But he reserved his harshest criticism for the "slump in tourism", previously the most successful sector of the economy.
"The problems of the tourism industry... have been tackled with half measures and contradictory policies, resulting in a revenue decrease and causing problems to tourism-dependant sectors of the economy," he said.
Iacovou said over 5,300 small businesses had gone bust, and the national debt had increased from £2.4 million in 1982 to £3.8 million in 1998.
He then turned to employment, saying almost 11,000 people were now unemployed, with the worst hit being women and young people.
"Whilst in 1992 there was almost full employment with only 1.8 per cent unemployment, we find ourselves in 1996 and 1997 with double the unemployment - 3.5 per cent."
Iacovou's answer to these economic woes would be two-pronged plan: increasing the rate of economic development through state development policies whilst encouraging, steering and advising the private sector.
Amplifying on this, Iacovou said his government would regulate the employment of foreign workers, provide incentives to support Cypriot businesses and carry out various EU-formulated programmes.
Earlier in the day, Finance Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou had defended his policy, saying Iacovou was "misinformed" and would lead the country into "terrible episodes" if elected.
He challenged Iacovou to a public debate on the economy, saying the independent candidate was giving out wrong information - particularly in the numbers of unemployed.
He said the unemployed in fact numbered only 10,000, while VAT was generating only £9,000 in revenue, not the tens of thousands of pounds claimed by Iacovou.
"All these things prove the public is being swayed to give its vote to a candidate... who does not know the Cypriot reality," said Christodoulou.
But Iacovou had little time for the Finance Minister's challenge: when Christodoulou became a presidential candidate, he said, then he would agree to join him in a debate on the economy.
 Iacovou foreign policy claims 'insulting'By Martin Hellicar
FOREIGN Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides yesterday slammed presidential candidate George Iacovou, describing his foreign policy line as ill- informed and "insulting".
Iacovou, who was Foreign Minister for the Vassiliou government, is President Clerides's only serious rival for the February 8 polls.
Cassoulides called an afternoon press conference to attack Iacovou's claims concerning the Common Defence Dogma military pact with Greece and the island's EU accession course.
"Iacovou's position on the Dogma is that his aim is to consult with the Greek government on how to reinforce it. But he knows full well that the dogma is functioning smoothly. It is insulting to all the government's efforts for him to suggest it needs reinforcement," he said.
He also claimed Iacovou was twisting the facts concerning Cyprus's EU accession process when he alleged the government's approach would lead to problems over Turkish Cypriot participation.
Cassoulides said the "parameters" for Turkish Cypriot participation had been defined, "and this is what matters."
He also said Iacovou had, while Minister, slowed movement towards accession by failing promptly to complete the necessary tour of European capitals. "If Mr Iacovou had stopped visiting Africa
all the time and had not spent so much of his time trying to become UN Secretary General I am certain we would not have had a year's delay," Cassoulides said.
 Tension rises in Diko wranglingsDIKO general-secretary Stathis Kittis yesterday said disciplinary action against party vice president Dinos Michaelides would not begin until after the presidential elections.
Michaelides has incurred the wrath of the Diko leadership for openly criticising its decision to back presidential candidate George Iacovou.
The former interior minister has issued a Friday ultimatum to his party to reconsider its decision to bring him before a disciplinary committee.
Kittis said yesterday Michaelides had openly allied himself with independent Diko rebel candidate Alexis Galanos in the first round, and with Disy-backed Glafcos Clerides in the second.
Kittis said the delay in the convening of the disciplinary committee was due to new evidence of more serious breaches of party rules by Michaelides, requiring closer committee attention.
Such evidence included attempts made by Michaelides supporters to sway Diko members to vote for Clerides, Kittis claimed.
Galanos yesterday lashed out at Diko's treatment of its vice president, saying members of lower rank than Michaelides should show him due respect; a "medieval mentality" prevailed in the party, he said.
 Second bomb found in British baseONLY a faulty fuse prevented a second bomb explosion within a week in the Akrotiri Sovereign Base Area (SBA) yesterday, but base authorities said they did not suspect a terrorist campaign.
A small home-made device containing TNT explosive - whose fuse had been lit but had not gone-off - was discovered next to a busy road through the base at around 1pm, bases spokesman Mervyn Wynne Jones said.
Last Thursday night, a bomb went off outside the SBA police station at Phasouri, damaging lighting outside the building.
Wynne Jones said yesterday's bomb was "nowhere near" the Phasouri police station, but he added the possibility of the two attacks being linked "could not be ruled out."
The device was found in a pumping station next to the M1 about half-way between Curium archaeological site and Phasouri by a bases security officer on routine patrol. The road was closed off while SBA explosives experts defused the device.
Wynne Jones stated that, as with the attack last week, SBA police believed it was the work of a "crank" and not terrorists.
"There is nothing sinister about the incident," Wynne Jones told the Cyprus Mail. He said the M1 was used "as much by civilian traffic as by (British) military vehicles."
He said there were no plans for security patrols within the SBA to be stepped up.
 Leopards outwit vets to make babiesTWO LEOPARD cubs born at Limassol Zoo early on Wednesday have stunned staff who had been feeding their mother contraceptives for years.
Lambros Lambrou, the zoo's official vet, said yesterday there had been no decision to mate the two adult leopards.
In fact, "we had been giving her contraceptives for years and we did not expect a delivery," Lambrou said.
"When staff went to the cage on Wednesday morning, they were completely surprised to find four leopards instead of two."
The cubs' mother is five years old and was brought to Limassol from Israel around four years ago. She had been taking contraceptives twice a week in her food.
"Obviously it didn't work," Lambrou said.
The male leopard, called Leo, is nine years old and came from an Italian circus which visited Limassol five years ago.
Lambrou said the two cubs were in perfect health.
 Small quake shakes Limassol and PaphosSOUTHERN and western coastal towns were shaken by a minor earthquake early yesterday morning.
The tremor, which measured 4.4 on the Richter scale, was felt in Limassol, Paphos and Stroumbi. It occurred at 00.39am.
The epicentre was 60 kilometres out to sea, south-west of Limassol, the Geological Survey Department said.
There were no injuries, and no damage was reported.
In 1996, an earthquake measuring 6.1 on the Richter scale rocked the entire island, with 50 injuries reported. Buildings were also damaged.
Over the past 100 years, earthquakes in Cyprus have been responsible for the deaths of 67 people.
 Hellenic bank in investment deal with Merrill LynchA DEAL has been struck between Hellenic Bank Ltd and Merrill Lynch Asset Management (MLAM) granting the bank the right to offer and distribute MLAM offshore mutual funds in Cyprus.
The agreement, announced yesterday, will grant Hellenic Bank clients access to 38 international money market, equity, and bond investment portfolios.
Merrill Lynch & Co is ranked as one of the world's leading securities firms with client assets of over $1 trillion. MLAM, a wholly owned asset management division, is one of the largest global asset management services, with combined assets under management of nearly $450 billion.
MLAM investments will be available only to non-residents, repatriated Cypriots, offshore and overseas companies and approved investment and insurance companies.
© Copyright Cyprus Mail 1998
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