Pen­sion­ers are good in­vestors, too!

E DII TO RII A L

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

The trou­ble with start­ing any gov­ern­ment scheme or a business plan lies in crit­i­cal vol­ume. Cyprus is a small mar­ket, with an “is­land pop­u­la­tion”, yet we ex­pect to achieve economies based on a larger scale or mod­els that have been tried and tested in pop­u­lous ci­ties or coun­tries. That is why we have only two op­tions – to fo­cus on our niche prod­ucts and ser­vices, and to at­tract larger num­bers.

We should not com­plain if Cyprus ho­tels charge twice as what you would find in ri­val des­ti­na­tions, but at least that should be com­pen­sated with high qual­ity ser­vice and value for money, which very of­ten is not the case. This is why our tourist num­bers will never go up. We all know that our un­com­pet­i­tive ho­tel rates are driven pri­mar­ily by high labour costs, which in turn are kept at un­af­ford­able lev­els thanks to the union­con­trolled mar­ket and our cowardly politi­cians who dare not chal­lenge the trade syn­di­cates. On the other hand, an ex­pen­sive bot­tle of wa­ter at the beach or a pricey fish plate at a sea­side tav­erna is the re­sult of high rent and ex­pen­sive labour, not for­get­ting the prof­i­teer­ing distrib­u­tor.

Even the likes of Lidl, Car­refour and IKEA refuse to bring their prices down to the lev­els of their own out­lets in the rest of Europe, with the sim­ple ar­gu­ment be­ing that “if our ri­vals charge as much, why should we lower our prices?” Stinks of col­lu­sion…

This is where vol­ume comes in and the only way to al­low the con­sumer to vote with his feet is to at­tract big­ger num­bers of short and long-term tourists, or even em­u­late the Por­tuguese pro­gramme (there’s no harm in copying) by al­low­ing big­ger num­bers of pen­sion­ers to move per­ma­nently to Cyprus.

Such a scheme would al­low ev­ery­one to ben­e­fit – from the lo­cal gro­cer, car me­chanic and hair salon, all the way to spe­cialised ser­vices such as pen­sion plan man­age­ment, med­i­cal and (in later years) fu­neral ser­vices.

We are all too happy to at­tract bridal hol­i­days, but we do noth­ing to lure them back the fol­low­ing years. Fam­i­lies feel safe va­ca­tion­ing in Cyprus, even though a hol­i­day pack­age could be costly. Then again, this is why some of the all-in­clu­sive re­sorts are do­ing well, but only for a while.

What­ever hap­pened to the grandiose plans to bring in se­nior cit­i­zens to spend weeks, if not months, in our nearly-de­serted hol­i­day towns dur­ing the win­ter months? We have re­peat­edly ar­gued that keep­ing a ho­tel open dur­ing the colder months would prove a great suc­cess, as some es­tab­lish­ments may de­cide to of­fer “se­nior hol­i­days” through­out the year. On the other hand, such va­ca­tions would mean less of a bur­den for the health and so­cial ser­vices in their home coun­try, while an ex­change pro­gramme would mean that lo­cal clin­ics and the soon-to-be-pri­va­tised state hos­pi­tals would ben­e­fit as well.

A lot of pen­sion­ers are still in their prime, some hav­ing even taken early re­tire­ment. They may have so much to con­trib­ute to lo­cal so­ci­ety by pass­ing on their know-how to lo­cal busi­nesses or even vol­un­teer­ing to com­mu­nity ser­vices, many of which are strained to the limit.

All that is needed is for the Min­istry of Fi­nance or even the Cyprus In­vest­ment Pro­mo­tion Agency to think how we can at­tract more se­nior vis­i­tors, many of whom are rel­a­tively well off and will spend prob­a­bly most if not all their re­tire­ment money for the next 20odd years in this coun­try.

Any ideas any­one or are we all se­nile al­ready?

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Cyprus

© PressReader. All rights reserved.