ECONOMY

In Brief

Cypriot January-April visitors down 8.6 pct NICOSIA (Reuters) – The number of tourists visiting Cyprus – a major source of income for the island – was down 8.6 percent on the year to April, the country’s statistics department said yesterday. Tourism, which accounts for about 10.9 percent of Cypriot gross domestic product, has suffered this year from the global downturn, hitting its key market Britain particularly hard and eroding the value of the pound against the euro, which Cyprus adopted in 2008. Passenger survey data from January to April showed arrivals falling to 375,523 people compared with 411,054 tourists visiting in the first four months of 2008, an 8.6 percent decrease. Year-on-year for April alone, arrivals were down by 0.4 percent. Tourists from Britain, who usually account for just over half of Cyprus’s annual tourism intake, totaled 84,526 in April compared with 93,862 in the corresponding period of 2008, a 9.9 percent drop. Nicosia moves forward with biggest debt sale Cyprus, the second-smallest eurozone economy, has hired three banks to manage a sale of 1 billion euros ($1.36 billion) in bonds, its biggest sale of debt. The government appointed BNP Paribas SA, Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc and Societe Generale SA to arrange the sale of the four-year notes, the Nicosia-based Finance Ministry said in an e-mailed statement yesterday. Bank of Cyprus Pcl, Marfin Popular Bank Pcl and Alpha Bank SA will also help with the transaction, it said. Cyprus is tapping international capital markets as the global financial turmoil saps tax revenues, widening the budget deficit, as about 3.6 billion euros of debt is to mature in the next seven months. The shortfall will rise to 1.9 percent of gross domestic product this year, after a surplus of 0.9 percent in 2008, according to the European Union. The economy will grow 0.3 percent in 2009, from 3.7 percent last year, the EU said. (Bloomberg) Oman deal TAV Insaat, a Turkish builder, won a $1.17 billion contract for runway and infrastructure work at Muscat International Airport in Oman, the company said in an e-mailed statement yesterday. TAV will partner with Consolidated Contractors International (CCI) of Greece on the project, which is to be completed in 34 months, it said. TAV and CCI beat out other contenders, including Central Europe’s biggest construction company Strabag SE, Greece’s J&P Avax SA and India’s biggest engineering company Larsen & Toubro Ltd to win the auction, TAV Chief Executive Officer Sani Sener said in the statement. (Bloomberg) Montenegro plan Montenegro must seek investment, cut taxes and sell its remaining assets in 2009 to supplement its budget gap as tourism drops, Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic said yesterday. Montenegro’s tourism-based economy grew 10.7 percent in 2007 and 8.1 percent in 2008. The global economic crisis has prompted investors, mainly in tourism-based real estate, to flee. Moody’s Investors Service, which expects the economy to shrink as much as 4 percent in 2009, downgraded Montenegro’s bond rating earlier this month. (Bloomberg)