ECONOMY

Cyprus lures Israelis, Lebanese to tie knot

Cyprus, dubbed the “Island of Love” as the birthplace of the goddess Aphrodite, is a magnet for Lebanese and Israeli couples from across the water to tie the knot in a civil wedding.

“We don’t have the same religion,” shrugged Yohana, resplendent in a white dress fresh out of her suitcase.

The young Lebanese woman, a member of the Muslim Druze minority sect, arrived from Beirut with her Christian fiance – after a flight lasting less than half an hour.

Despite timid moves to legalize civil marriage back home, more and more couples from Israel and Lebanon are hopping over to Cyprus, which is mainly Greek Orthodox.

Civil marriage has been legal ever since 1990 in the small EU island state, where a marriage license issued by town halls costs less than 300 euros.

In 2012, the town hall in the coastal resort of Larnaca, where the international airport is located, registered 423 marriages between Israeli couples.

And the number of Lebanese couples marrying in Cyprus doubled between 2007 and 2013.

According to Cyprus Tourism Office figures, couples getting married accounted for 8.5 percent of tourist arrivals in 2012, and this increased 13.7 percent between 2011 and 2013.

[AFP]