In Brief

Cyprus tourism sector demands fiscal relief NICOSIA (Reuters) – Cyprus’s tourism industry demanded broad-based tax cuts on Friday to help ease the knock-on effect of the global financial crisis on the island’s crucial tourism sector. Industry representatives for hoteliers to travel agents said concerted action was needed to buffer the sector, which accounts for about 11 percent of Cyprus’s gross domestic product, from the crisis. «We can’t face this crisis alone,» said Akis Vavlitis, who represents tourism-related businesses. The industry wants a drop in airport tariffs, more support for the island’s airlines in transporting tourists from non-EU countries to the island and an open-skies policy for airlines from non-EU countries operating flights to Cyprus. «We also propose that VAT on tourism businesses be cut from 8 percent to 5 percent for as long as the crisis persists,» Vavlitis said. Hellenic Bank slashes guidance as profit drops NICOSIA (Reuters) – Cyprus’s Hellenic Bank cut its full-year profit guidance in half as it reported a 44 percent fall in nine-month shareholder profit, citing a deteriorating international environment. Hellenic said it expected pretax profits for the whole year would be half that of the latest guidance issued in August for profit of 119 million euros. It is the second downward revision this year. Profit attributable to shareholders dropped to 58.5 million euros from 103.9 million in the first nine months of 2007, the bank said, adding that its management would revise its 2009 and 2010 strategic targets announced earlier this year. Turkey trade deficit Turkey’s trade deficit contracted 7.6 percent year-on-year to $5.295 billion in October, the Turkish Statistics Institute said on Friday, compared with a Reuters poll forecast of a $5.5 billion deficit. Exports decreased 3.1 percent year-on-year in October to $9.59 billion, while imports fell 4.8 percent to $14.88 billion, the institute said. The trade deficit in the first 10 months of the year widened to $63.445 billion, 24.2 percent higher than the same period in 2007. (Reuters) Brakes on auto market Turkish automotive market sales are expected to shrink 20 percent next year in response to the global financial crisis and economic slowdown, the head of a Turkish automotive association said on Friday. Turkey’s car industry, which has grown dramatically since a 2001 financial crisis, has not been spared the dramatic global downturn and easing access to credit is crucial in keeping the wheels of industry turning, said Ibrahim Aybar, chairman of the Turkish Automotive Distributors’ Association. (Reuters) Bulgaria growth Bulgaria published on Friday a gloomy alternative view of its economy clouded by the global financial crisis, which might oblige the government to revamp its 2009 budget plans. In its 2009-11 euro convergence program, the Socialist-led government sees the economy growing 4.7 percent next year. But an alternative scenario in the same official document, released Friday, shows growth slowing to 2.1 percent and staying below 5 percent through 2011. (Reuters)