Cyprus government running scared of the Brexit effect

Published:  21 Jun at 6 PM
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In spite of appeals from British expats, the Cypriot government is keeping its cards very close to its chest as regards the possibly devastating effects of a Brexit on the local economy.

Reports of a probable collapse of tourism to the island plus the loss of a large number of British expats now in residence have been circulating for several weeks. However, if the government has any contingency plans, it’s in no hurry at all to divulge them to either the expat community or its own population, the majority of whom are involved in the tourism industry.

Traditionally, the majority of visitors to Cyprus are from the UK, with many retiring to the island or purchasing a holiday home. At the present time there’s a tourist boom, mostly due to terrorist threats in other nearby tourism hubs. The tourist trade is the country’s main earner as well as providing employment for a good slice of the population, the majority of which would be lost should Brexit succeed.

Mass unemployment would bring dire consequences to the small island as there’s a lack of alternative means to stimulate a post-tourism based economy. In addition, the UK is Cyprus’s second most important trading partner after Greece, itself still facing a possible economic collapse. Brexit would also affect around 10,000 students from the island who’ve chosen to study at the UK’s’ universities. Once they’ve got their degrees, a majority decide to stay in the UK to find suitable employment not available on the island.

Last week, representatives from the National Federation of Cypriots pitched the Remain campaign to Cypriots resident in the UK and able to vote due to the island’s Commonwealth connection. Expats on the island are angry that, in spite of the financial benefits they bring, no attempt has been made by the government to explain to the community any plans they may have made on their behalf. At present Cyprus is well on the road to recovery after its banking system crashed during the 2008 financial meltdown, but a Brexit would send the economy tumbling and wipe out the gains.
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