In Cyprus, the far reaching effects of the July Turkish invasion and subsequent conflict are only now being fully realised.
In Cyprus, the far reaching effects of the July Turkish invasion and subsequent conflict are only now being fully realised. Physical damage to the island is being repaired slowly ... but the economy, shattered by the conflict, has been slow to respond.
The main industry was tourism, bringing in more than GBP 30 million sterling (approx. 72 million US dollars) a year. However, the industry is at a standstill. At this time of year, the island usually caters for something like 20,000 tourists ... this year there are fewer than a thousand.
Hotels are empty. Tour and travel offices are closed.And empty tables and chairs at sidewalk cafes are the rule, not the exception. Hardest hit, however, have been the airlines. Nicosia International Airport has been closed since the war, and is too badly damaged to be used anyway. However, a new airport at Lanarka is being extended and it's hoped to have it open for international flights by the end of next month.
The construction industry has also suffered. Many contractors have simply packed up and left the island. One set forth for Muscat and Oman in the Gulf ... and took a thousand Greek-Cypriot workers with him.
At present, the only viable industry is fruit-growing .. but it will be months before farmers will be able to reap profits. The island's grape vines are not due to flower for another five months. And although the citrus crops appear to be doing well, there is little demand for the fruit on the island, and no export orders have yet been signed.
Cypriots have sought foreign aid for their ailing economy. But businessmen overseas are wary, as many had their fingers burnt during the war. It's been estimated that foreigners lost almost GBP 140 million sterling (approx. 310 million US dollars) as a direct result of the war.
Economic experts say the island's economy will take at least 10 years to recover ... and that estimate optimistically counts on a political settlement between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities within the next 12 months.