Pensioners are good investors, too!
E DII TO RII A L
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?