In Brief

Fewer visitors seen heading to Cyprus for holidays in 2009 Cyprus’s tourism is expected to feel the pinch of global economic turmoil with an estimated 15 to 20 percent drop in 2009 bookings, industry officials said yesterday. The sector accounts for about 11 percent of Cyprus’s gross domestic product. The island, with a population of just under 1 million, has over 2 million tourist visitors annually. «The year that just passed saw worrying trends, such as a continuous drop in arrivals and revenue. The trend of what lies ahead, taking into account the extent of the international economic crisis, is pretty ominous,» said Haris Loizides, head of Cyprus’s hoteliers association. The industry wants a drop in airport tariffs, more support to the island’s airlines in bringing tourists to the island, preferential value-added-tax rates and a cut in electricity costs. «The indications we have speak of a drop of in advance bookings in the region of 15 to 20 percent,» Loizides told an annual meeting of the hoteliers association. The latest official data suggest that while arrival figures are fairly resilient, the purchasing power of visitors is falling sharply. Tourism revenues were down 4 percent for the January-to-October period, while arrivals were only 0.6 percent lower to 2.23 million holidaymakers. (Reuters) Intralot signs IT deal with Hamburg’s state lottery Intralot, the world’s second-largest lottery systems provider, signed an IT deal with Hamburg’s state lottery after a successful pilot project since 2007, it said yesterday. Under the deal, which has a five-year minimum duration, Intralot will provide the German lottery with hardware and software for the operation of 470 terminals, along with maintenance services. Intralot did not provide any financial figures on the deal. Intralot has been expanding aggressively in recent years to take advantage of the liberalization of world gaming markets. Along with providing IT services for lotteries, it also runs sports betting in 12 countries. (Reuters) Car companies Romania’s outgoing Liberal government will provide aid to five automotive companies to help boost the local auto industry as demand declines. The government will give more than 100 million euros ($145 million) to five major investment projects, Prime Minister Calin Tariceanu told reporters yesterday, without naming the companies. «The aid we’ll provide was approved by the European Commission,» he added. Demand for new cars is declining as the economies of Western Europe, Romania’s main trading partner, slow down. Dacia SA, Romania’s biggest carmaker and a subsidiary of French automaker Renault SA, suspended production for 16 days this year due to declining demand, shaving output this year by 15,600 cars. (Bloomberg) Court case Greek shipping billionaire John Angelicoussis is suing Fortescue Metals Group Ltd for $130 million as a collapse in vessel-rental rates triggers an increase in industry lawsuits. Fortescue, Australia’s third-largest iron ore producer, canceled a contract to lease the Angelicoussis-controlled Anangel Splendour, according to a December 11 filing in US federal court in New York. The East Perth-based company agreed to rent the ship for as long as 61 months at $77,500 a day. (Bloomberg)