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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 01-11-20

Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Tuesday, November 20, 2001


  • [01] Rolandis warns of slump in tourism
  • [02] War of words intensifies ahead of death probe
  • [03] EU report sees higher unemployment than the government
  • [04] Too cold to watch the meteors
  • [05] Remanded mukhtars seek re-election
  • [06] CSE closes 2.14% higher
  • [07] High winds batter Cyprus

  • [01] Rolandis warns of slump in tourism

    By Jean Christou

    TOURISM for this year is likely to fall ten per cent short of estimates and prospects for next summer are bleak, Commerce, Industry and Tourism Minister Nicos Rolandis said yesterday.

    Rolandis, who has just returned from meetings abroad in an attempt to salvage the industry, told the Cyprus Mailthat from his contacts in Europe and the UK, it appeared tourism figures for this year would settle at 2.7 million arrivals.

    The figure, identical to last year's, falls far short of estimates, which projected arrivals of around three million for this year until the September 11 terrorist attacks led to a slump in global tourism and air transport.

    Rolandis said he had met all the major British and European tour operators and the managers of the Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO) offices abroad.

    " From the recent contacts I had in Europe and in the UK, it appears that overall, as of now, as things are today, we stand to lose as much as 10 per cent off the tourism of this year, which means we may lose probably 250,000 tourists based on what they told us,"Rolandis said after a two-hour meeting with representatives of the industry in Nicosia yesterday.

    The meeting included representatives from the Chambers of Commerce and Industry (KEVE), the Employers and Industrialists Federation (OEV), the Cyprus Hoteliers Association, the Association of Cyprus Travel Agents (ACTA), Cyprus Airways and the CTO.

    The minister said the severest problems were being experienced in the UK, the island's biggest tourism market.

    " We are trying to find ways and means to reverse the situation,"Rolandis added.

    " From the UK, we expected something better than what we heard when we were there. Europe appears to be much better. Germany, Austria and Switzerland say they will have a marginal drop. Russia and the Scandinavian countries say there is no change, but the UK estimates more than a ten per cent drop, "Rolandis said.

    He said British operators had also cut capacity to Cyprus for next summer. " We will not have the number of seats we anticipated and this means that even if they have the tourists, they will not have the aeroplanes to bring them here. This is why I wanted Cyprus Airways to be there with us so that in case of need we could use their aircraft."

    Rolandis said the message from British tour operators was that Cyprus was in the eastern Mediterranean, " which is a grey area for them" .

    " Although they accepted that Cyprus is free from Islamic elements that could cause trouble, it is in the eastern Mediterranean and appears on maps of the eastern Mediterranean and is thus considered part of the trouble zone,"he said.

    " Although they accept what we tell them that this is not the case in reality, they say this is the feeling of the average tourist, who feels happier in the western part of the Mediterranean - the Canaries, Spain, the south of France and Italy, which are free form all these elements. They feel there will be a shift of tourism from the eastern Mediterranean to the western part."

    The Minister said a second element was the amount of tourism Cyprus stood to lose from European travellers now afraid of planes and opting to drive to Mediterranean destinations accessible overland.

    " Cyprus does not have this facility. You have to fly to Cyprus,"he said.

    Rolandis said a number of suggestions had been put forward by the industry bosses, which would be submitted to the Cabinet, but he declined to elaborate.

    He said the plan for winter tourism, including the budget of 3.2 million, would remain in place and that the government had already set aside an extra 4 million to counter the current problem. With the annual 13 million usually given for tourism advertising, the advertising budget for 2001/2002 will now total 20.2 million, Rolandis said.

    " If the events are about to finish in Afghanistan, probably things will come back to normal but we still have to take measures,"he said. " We cannot live on wishes."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [02] War of words intensifies ahead of death probe

    By Jennie Matthew

    A STATE investigation begins today into the circumstances surrounding the death of a middle-aged-man last week and whether the lack of paramedics on board an ambulance that brought him to Nicosia might have been a contributory factor

    But the bitter political and personal wrangling sparked by the case yesterday showed no sign of abating.

    Health Minister Frixos Savvides yesterday handed the deceased patient's medical file to investigating pathologist Panicos Stavrianos. Hours later, one of the country's most prominent pathologists called for the minister's resignation.

    Pathologist Marios Matsakis accused the Minister of denying that an autopsy took place and blinding the public to the failures in the ambulance service, by fighting with professional medical opinion.

    Christofi Christofi, 44 from Paralimni sustained light head injures after a car accident on October 26.

    He was treated in a private clinic in Paralimni and Paralimni Hospital, before being transferred in a state ambulance to neurosurgery at Nicosia General Hospital.

    He died 19 days later on November 13.

    On November 14, Matsakis officiated at the first autopsy on the body carried out by state pathologist Sophocles Sophocleous, at the request of the family of the deceased.

    They declared the cause of death as aspiration of gastric content, which eventually contributed to pneumonia and organ failure.

    Matsakis then lambasted the health service for failing to provide trained paramedic staff on ambulances - a factor he said, could have saved the patient's life.

    " When he got into the ambulance he suffered only from light concussion. There was no brain injury and there was no skull injury. On arrival he was unconscious with respiratory failure,"Matsakis told the Cyprus Mailyesterday.

    But other reports suggested Christofi was in perfectly good health when he arrived in Nicosia for a scan.

    Matsakis has tirelessly campaigned against the lack of trained paramedics working in the ambulance service.

    Savvides has since 1999 been promising that a paramedic school would be set up, but nothing has been done since then.

    The pathologist yesterday insisted that the country's shoddy ambulance system had contributed to the patient's untimely death.

    He said the law required a doctor and anaesthetist to accompany any patient with head injuries in an ambulance.

    In this case, only a nurse was present.

    But despite publicly apologising for the loss of life due to the absence of paramedics, the Health Minister was unsatisfied with the original autopsy.

    " The circumstances of the case made me decide there were a lot of question marks and a lot of suspect actions,"he said.

    He accused Sophocleous of not examining tissue samples under the microscope, refusing to submit liquids for toxicology tests or examining key organs, which he said would prove the cause of death beyond reasonable doubt.

    He ordered a second autopsy, carried out on November 15 by Eleni Antoniou and Panicos Stavrianos. Laboratory tests returned on November 16 gave the cause of death as pulmonary embolism.

    Antoniou said yesterday there was no way the patient's trip in the ambulance nearly three weeks before he died had a bearing on his death.

    " It's a very different cause of death. If someone choked 20 days before he died, there is no way that was the cause of death. The doctor's notes say he was in good condition when he arrived in Nicosia. The problems only started six days before he died, with heavy bleeding of the stomach,"said Antoniou.

    The doctor who examined the patient upon arrival yesterday refused to comment about Christofi's health in light of the investigations under way.

    Savvides has ordered a full state and police investigation to determine whether there is a case for criminal negligence against Matsakis and Sophocleous.

    He said disciplinary action against Sophocleous, who is a state employee, would depend on the results of the investigation.

    But Matsakis was yesterday livid that the Minister should call into question his professional opinion and accused him of denying the existence of the first autopsy.

    " When a Health Minister accuses two forensic pathologists like this it goes very deep into our professional integrity. We give evidence in court and very serious decisions are based on our evidence,"said Matsakis.

    Savvides said he had never lied about the existence of the first autopsy.

    The state investigation into the events begins today under the authority of pathologist Panicos Stavrianou.

    His enquiry will run concurrently with a police investigation into suspected criminal negligence on behalf of medical staff.

    Stavrianou yesterday declined to comment on the results of previous autopsies.

    Instead, he urged all parties who knew anything, to come forward and submit evidence.

    The Pancyprian Medical Association will also appoint a doctor to officiate over the investigation today.

    Savvides yesterday briefed President Glafcos Clerides on the matter, who was reportedly " hugely interested"in the affair.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [03] EU report sees higher unemployment than the government

    UNEMPLOYMENT in Cyprus stands at 4.8 per cent according to a new European study, nearly two per cent higher than government estimates.

    According to the Statistics Office, unemployment in Cyprus stood at 3 per cent from January to October 2001.

    Labour Minister Andreas Moushiouttas analysed the European report in a House Finance Committee meeting yesterday.

    Moushiouttas promised to generate more part-time jobs for women and predicted that Cyprus would have to open the gates to more foreign workers in order to counter the effects of an ageing population.

    The European study, which put unemployment at 4.8 per cent - still less than half the European average - also claimed that 87 per cent of unemployed women would like to work part time.

    The report was based on door-to-door interviews, rather than government statistics, which include only those registered as " unemployed"or searching for work.

    But given the unemployment average of 10 per cent in the EU, Moushiouttas said the employment picture was rosy.

    He said that a different methodology between national and EU calculations for unemployment made estimates in Brussels consistently higher than those of national governments.

    DISY deputy Prodromos Prodromou pointed out that Cyprus had a labour shortage, filled by 40,000 migrant workers - accounting for 14 per cent of the economically active population.

    The Minister pointed out that Cyprus was moving towards an ageing society. For every 3.8 working people, there is a pensioner. He said that by 2050 the ratio would reach 1 to 2.

    The EU report has suggested that the only way to safeguard the viability of social security funds would be to employ five million foreign workers over the next two decades -which Cyprus would be forced to do, Moushiouttas said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [04] Too cold to watch the meteors

    A METEOR shower lit up the Cypriot sky in the early hours of Sunday but most people were too cold to go out and watch the spectacular phenomenon.

    The Leonid Meteor Shower took place on Saturday and Sunday last week and was visible in Cyprus in the early hours of Sunday, Ioannis Fakas of the Fakas Institute of Astronomy said yesterday.

    " It was a beautiful sight. I went out twice to watch the shower, at 2 am and at 4 am,"he said.

    He added, however, that most people missed the spectacle because they felt it was too cold to go out in the howling wind.

    " I was not lucky enough to see any 'burning stars'. If you happen to see one while on your own you'll get really scared. It's like a big fire in the sky,"he said.

    Fakas said the shower was visible between midnight and the crack of dawn.

    " I was able to see just one meteor falling early today. The phenomenon is basically over now."

    Fakas said that the Leonid Meteor Shower would reoccur at the same period next year.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [05] Remanded mukhtars seek re-election

    THE DETAINED mukhtars of Kato Pyrgos and Pigenia yesterday submitted their candidacies for the December 16 municipal elections.

    Kato Pyrgos Mukhtar Krinos Theocharous and his Pigenia counterpart Vassos Stylianou are currently in custody on suspicion of involvement in the illegal transfer of land in the remote Tylliria area.

    Interior Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou said yesterday the suspects had every right to seek re-election in the local elections as they were considered innocent unless proven otherwise.

    " We had an obligation to follow all the necessary procedures and provide them with the papers they needed to fill in order to submit their candidacies,"said Christodoulou.

    The minister said that if either mukhtar was re-elected and later convicted, then the elections would have to be repeated.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [06] CSE closes 2.14% higher

    FINANCIAL and service sector stocks drove the 2.14 per cent higher yesterday on continued positive sentiment from government plans to cut taxes.

    The benchmark index rebounded from a sluggish open to close 2.97 points higher to 141.85 points. Turnover slid slightly to 11.37 million on a volume of 39.2 million shares.

    Shares in the investment and service-based sectors continued to move strongly, outperforming blue chip banking stocks which rose 1.07 per cent. The FTSE/CySE index rose 1.85 per cent. "The euphoria on the market is broad-based and covers all sectors," said Marios Mavrides of Citi Principal Investments.

    CLR Investment Fund and MarketTrends Financial Services were the most actively traded shares with more than 2.7 million shares exchanging hands for each stock.

    The market has rebounded strongly in the past two weeks on government proposals to cut corporate tax to 10 per cent from 20 and 25 and to lower income tax. The recommendations, which need parliamentary approval, go hand in hand with government plans to increase indirect taxation in preparation for EU membership.

    Advancers beat decliners 122 to 39 with 14 issues unchanged on 175 traded. There were 7,500 deals. (R)

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [07] High winds batter Cyprus

    THE FIRE services answered over 100 calls for help at the weekend as the island was battered by mini tornados which felled trees, caused extensive damage to cars and buildings and cut power supplies in places.

    According to the police, the fire brigade was called out 105 times on Sunday.

    The most serious incidents occurred in Larnaca, where trees fell on a residential building, causing extensive damage and panicking residents.

    One woman was slightly injured when she was hit by a large branch at a local park in Larnaca, while electricity was cut off in parts of Zygi, Kalavasos and Lefkara.

    Trees also fell in Nicosia, causing minor power cuts and knocking out traffic lights in the industrial area of Strovolos. Two cars were also damaged by falling trees in Ayii Omoloyites. In Limassol, falling trees damaged several vehicles as well as the old church of Ayios Georgios.

    The owners of houses damaged in Tseri village outside Nicosia will receive government help to mend their properties. Interior Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou yesterday gave instructions that work should start immediately to repair the damages.

    Reports from the occupied areas say one man was killed when he lost control of his tractor in the swirling winds in occupied Acheritou bordering the British SBA in the south east of the island. Material damage was also reported across northern Cyprus.

    More stormy weather is forecast to hit Cyprus tomorrow and on Thursday.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

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