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Cyprus keen for stake of study travel industry

Keen to emulate the success of nearby Malta, Cyprus is the next Mediterranean country angling for a stake in the study travel market by pushing for visa reform and regulation that would enable the country to compete more effectively as an English language teaching destination.

photo: Cyprus Tourism Organisationphoto: Cyprus Tourism Organisation

“Malta is one twenty-ninth the size of Cyprus and yet it is the fifth most popular destination worldwide for ELT"

There are a handful of ELT operators already there, seeing rising interest, according to stakeholders on the island, but they complain that lack of government support means the industry is being stymied by visa red tape and lack of a joined-up approach to promoting Cyprus as a quality destination.

“This is a phenomenal new industry which appears to have bypassed Cyprus,” said director of the English Learning Centre in Limassol and Malvern House Cyprus, Yiota Kontolouca, in an article in Cyprus Mail

“Malta is one twenty-ninth the size of Cyprus and shares some of the same characteristics yet it is the fifth most popular destination worldwide for ELT.”

Malta welcomes around 70,000 students each year to study English, according to an interview in The PIE News with the founder of its industry association, FELTOM. While 88% of Maltese are estimated to speak English, which is an official language of Malta, Cyprus has similar good levels of English, 76% of Cypriots are reported to speak it.

The Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO) backs the fledgling industry’s calls for government recognition of the sector so that a regulatory body to assure quality standards on the island can be set up.

“This is a scheme that definitely interests us, but it is down to the government to promote it,” said head of CTO, Alecos Ourountiotis.

Schools on the island also want easier visa issuance for non-EU nationals. “Students from non-EU countries can only stay 12 weeks, therefore we only offer courses lasting that long,” explained Kontolouca, citing interest from Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and the Middle East.

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