Saturday 21 April 2018

'Islanders feel abandoned and many friends are talking about selling up'

COASTAL resorts in Cyprus should be looking forward to the start of the holiday season next month.

Instead, business owners are worried whether or not there will be a season at all this year.

The growing instability in the country has given rise to fears tourists will stay away, and with the island's banks currently closed, there are other headaches – such as how to pay suppliers.

Dubliner Lorna Kyprianou (42), who runs the popular Nag's Head bar in the resort town of Limassol, said some of her suppliers were now only accepting cash payments.

It is a trend being increasingly replicated across the island. Many petrol stations began rejecting credit cards on Wednesday. Some restaurants and shops followed. The fear is that if credit card payments are accepted, businesses will not be able to collect the payments should the banks fail to reopen. Mrs Kyprianou, who runs the pub with her Cypriot husband Kypros, said: "I have been in Cyprus for 23 years and it is the first time I have seen anything like this. We are paying cash to our suppliers and people don't have cash to come out and spend."

While her pub is continuing to accept credit card payments, she fears custom will dwindle as people stay at home.

"Our fear is whether there will be a tourist season at all," she said. Mrs Kyprianou said there was a real sense of despondency. "On Facebook, friends are talking about selling up. It's as if Cyprus is finished."

Her husband said Cypriots felt abandoned by the "European family" – that Cyprus had helped with the Greek bailout but it was now being treated unfairly.

"Now we are asking for something back of what we gave to Europe and they (the EU) are telling us they cannot do that.

"That is not how families should work. We really think we have been let down," he said.

Dublin-born conference administrator Bernadette Charolambous (55) said: "Before the crisis, there were already a lot of Cypriots below the breadline. And for Cypriots, there isn't a big social welfare net."

Irish Independent

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