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WAYS of strengthening the growing ties between Paphos and China and possible problems faced by the town’s burgeoning number of Chinese investors were the focus of a meeting held at Paphos town hall this week.

The meeting between Chinese ambassador Liu Xinsheng, mayor of Paphos, Savvas Vergas, and municipal officer of external relations and tourism, Yiannis Anthis came as Paphos in particular is actively trying to rejuvenate its ailing housing sector by attracting Chinese investors.

According to the ambassador, 600 houses have been sold to Chinese buyers so far and the Chinese have invested 200 million euros in property in Cyprus.

“We discussed relations between China and Cyprus and how to develop a tourist and business relationship,” Anthis said.

It was the ambassador’s first official visit to Paphos since being appointed in the summer, but according to Anthis he has made several private visits to meet with the growing Chinese community.

Potential problems for this group also featured during the discussion with Anthis assuring the ambassador that none had yet surfaced as far as the municipality was aware.

“In general terms we did mention that there are both good and bad Cypriot businessmen just as there are good and bad Chinese investors. We didn’t get into specifics but we agreed to share mutual information in the future. No details were discussed,” Anthis said.

“We spoke of co-operation on several levels,” he added.

Estate agents have been promoting the sale of Paphos properties, hosting property exhibitions in China while property promotion billboards in Chinese characters have become a common sight around town.

Cyprus is an attractive destination for Chinese investors as it can function as a stepping stone to mainland Europe. As non-European nationals, prospective Chinese buyers need to make a minimum property purchase of €300,000, and prove they have adequate finances to stay in Cyprus. They are then entitled to apply for and receive a permanent residency permit for themselves and their family.

According to George Leptos of the Leptos Group, whose portfolio includes a large proportion of the properties in Paphos, the company’s Chinese clients are interested in ready or almost ready properties, of a value ranging from €300,000 to €800,000.

“We also spoke of the possibility of promoting Paphos to the Chinese and of organising a future event in China. We will also invite a Chinese delegation here to Paphos,” said Anthis.

Vergas told the ambassador that he was ready to help and do all that he can to facilitate investors to come and live in Paphos and to develop businesses here.

In addition, Paphos is hoping to establish a direct flight connecting the coastal town with China.

According to Leptos, who is also the head of EVE, the Paphos chamber of commerce and industry, increased efforts have been made to attract Chinese investment, Chinese buyers of residential properties and tourists.

He said recently that the Cyprus Tourism Organisation had contacted Chinese tour operators and airlines to increase tourism from China and to establish direct flights between the two countries.

Officials hope that establishing a direct flight would significantly boost property investments and develop the potentially vast Chinese tourist market, as well as attracting direct Chinese investments in areas other than residential properties. cyprus mail

Source : Cyprus Mail