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French direct investment in Cyprus booms, tourism remains low.

Despite a 68% climb in French direct investments in Cyprus, tourist arrivals from France to Cyprus remain low, a Cyprus-French business breakfast heard today.

In statements following a business breakfast organised by the Cyprus Investment Promotion Agency and the French-Cypriot Business Association, Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism Antonis Paschalides and French Ambassador to Cyprus Jean Marc Rives said French direct investment increased by 68% in one year, but tourist arrivals amounted to just 30,000.

Paschalides said that big French companies are already operating in Cyprus while there is interest for more direct investment in the fields of energy, tourism and maritime.

Responding to questions, he said however that there are some problems concerning red tape, adding that these will be looked into by the competent Ministers.

On his part, Rives said that French investment in Cyprus ''is lively and kicking,'' pointing out that between 2008 and 2009 French direct investments in Cyprus increased by 68%, whereas investments concerning 2007-2008 recorded an increase of 30%.

''This is quite a big jump in these past two years,'' he said, adding ''although we are not in the level of other countries such as Greece or the UK, we are picking up slowly and this is a good sign for us that our relations with Cyprus are improving at a rapid pace.''

Replying to a comment that despite the surge in direct investment, tourism from France is very low, Rives said that tourist arrivals in Cyprus from France are just 30,000 whereas French tourists visiting the Greek island of Crete number 500,000.

''Not because Cyprus is not nice, on the contrary. I witnessed myself the riches of Cyprus the sea, the mountains or the countryside,'' he said.

According to Rives, the problems in tourism concern the remoteness of Cyprus, at the far eastern tip of the Mediterranean, with flights taking at least four hours and ''very high'' airline fares.

''Basically you have to pay 400 - 500, this is something we discussed with the Minister,'' the French diplomat said, adding ''we have to work with the CTO with the hotel companies to find a solution.''

He also said that Cyprus is not that well known in France as a tourist destination, despite the ''exceptionally good quality of relations between the two countries.''

''So there is some promotion to be made in the field, I am sure, and it will be successful,'' he concluded.

CIPA President Phidias Pilides said that apart from promoting foreign investment in Cyprus, and assisting the state to improve the legal framework and infrastructure, the Agency aims at helping investors and solving difficulties they may face.

President of the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Tourism Manthos Mavromatis said the Chamber supports efforts to attract investors and encourage joint ventures between businesspeople from the two countries.

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Publication:Financial Mirror (Cyprus)
Geographic Code:4EUFR
Date:Dec 8, 2010
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