ECONOMY

In Brief

Cyprus tourism revenues fall 16 percent in 2009 NICOSIA (AFP) – Revenue from Cyprus’s vital tourism sector plummeted 16.7 percent in 2009, underscoring a bad year for the eastern Mediterranean island’s economy, official figures showed yesterday. Income from tourism, which makes up 12 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, fell to an estimated 1.49 billion euros in January to December from 1.79 billion euros in 2008. In December alone the slide was 17.3 percent – one of the steepest monthly drops of the year – with revenue from holidaymakers down to 42.7 million euros from 51.6 million in the same month of 2008. Tourism receipts were in negative territory for 12 consecutive months. Tourism income for 2008 as a whole fell 3.5 percent to 1.7 billion euros from 1.85 billion in 2007. The average daily spending by tourists last December was 58.60 euros and the average stay was 11 days. Israelis were the biggest spenders at 107.70 euros a day while Finns were the most frugal, spending just 42 euros a day on average. The annual drop in revenue is linked to a 10.9 percent decrease in the number of tourist arrivals for 2009. Bumper spending by holidaymakers helped the island achieve GDP growth of 4.4 percent in 2007, easing to 3.7 percent in 2008. On the back of disappointing tourism income, the Finance Ministry is expecting 0.5 percent negative GDP growth for 2009 as the economy is still struggling to come out of recession. EU regulators allow more time for bank support BRUSSELS (Reuters) – European Union regulators approved yesterday the extension of a Greek support package for credit institutions until June 30, saying the steps complied with rules on state aid for firms hit by the financial crisis. The support measures consist of a recapitalization scheme, a guarantee scheme and support through the issuance of Greek state special-purpose securities to credit institutions, the executive European Commission said in a statement. «The extended measures are limited in time and scope. The Commission has therefore concluded that they represent an appropriate means of remedying a serious disturbance in the Greek economy,» it said. The measures were initially approved on November 19, 2008 and prolonged once on September 18, 2009. Intracom deal Intracom Holdings SA’s information technology unit got an 8.5-million-euro contract with IKA, the Greek Social Security Foundation. The company commented yesterday in an Athens bourse filing. (Bloomberg) Eurozone entry Estonia’s chances of joining the eurozone next year have increased as the country will probably meet the European Union’s terms for the currency switch, Standard & Poor’s said. The country’s outlook to switch currencies probably won’t be affected by events in Greece, said Kai Stukenbrock, a London-based analyst at S&P yesterday in an e-mailed response to questions from Bloomberg. In November, Stukenbrock gave Estonia a 50-50 chance of making the currency change in 2011. «The likelihood of Estonia meeting the Maastricht criteria has now become relatively high, and therefore I would argue that Estonia’s chances of joining the euro have increased,» Stukenbrock said. «It remains a political decision, in the end, and as such there cannot be full visibility.» (Bloomberg)