Brexit may benefit Cyprus finance industry whilst threatening expat lifestyles

Published:  1 Nov at 6 PM
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Out of around 80,000 British expats living in Cyprus, a good percentage work in the finance industry and are now uncertain about possible Brexit changes in their roles.

Concern over Brexit’s future effect on the hundreds of thousands of British expats living, retiring or working in EU member states has mostly focused on the right to remain, healthcare issues and the falling pound. However, Cyprus’s offshore banking industry, its two British Army bases and the island’s tourism sector will also feel its effects.

Around half of the 80,000 British citizens at present in Cyprus work in tourism or finance, or are stationed there as part of the UK’s military presence in the Mediterranean. Cyprus has been part of the EU for 12 years and has benefited largely from the presence of the many expats who’ve bought homes and spend their pensions and wages in the island’s restaurants and stores.

Whilst the news for the finance sector might be positive as regards the possible relocation to Cyprus of financial organisations now based in the UK, the news for business owners in the tourism sector is another story. It’s too early to predict as yet, due to tourists booking their holidays prior to the referendum, but the downmarket, all-inclusive focus of the trade could result in a dramatic fall in visitors.

Although the island’s tourism board is attempting to attract wealthier, more upmarket visitors, it’s fully aware that airlines such as EasyJet and Ryanair are at present crucial to the market. Should the two airlines be forced to cancel their Cyprus services, the tourism sector with its 25 per cent contribution to the island’s GDP will be hit hard.

Also at risk are the 12,000 Cypriots who are studying in the UK at present, paying the European rate for their tuition. Should the rate no longer be available, fees charged by UK universities would rise from around £ 9000 per year to £20,000, unaffordable for many Cypriots. Worse still, government grants and EU-subsidised loans will also be off the table.
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