Unlicensed wedding planning on the island is significantly hurting the tourism industry and robbing the local economy, international travel agencies have warned.
Speaking to the media, Deputy Paphos Mayor Marios Papis confirmed that the municipality has recently received complaints from several travel agencies such as Thomson and Thomas Cook who say they are losing tens of thousands each year on their tourist wedding packages to Cyprus to unlicensed wedding professionals.
“We are not just talking about photographers but also florists, drivers and caterers”.
Papis reminded that unlicenced wedding workers also hurt the economy by not paying taxes on their undeclared work.
“These people do not own registered businesses but instead work from home on a laptop and sell their services up to 50% cheaper than the licenced professionals because they do not have the same expenses.”
The official said the municipality is also concerned that unlicensed professionals are directly linked with the sham marriage industry in Cyprus because their lack of credentials is never questioned.
“International travel agents offer wedding packages in Paphos for fixed fees but they are being constantly undercut by illegal workers in the industry.”
Papis warned that unless the authorities address the matter immediately Cyprus will suffer huge losses in tourism revenue as travel agents begin to eye more profitable wedding destinations in the region.
Police, meanwhile, are continuing to investigate a sham marriage case in the capital launched last month. Four people were arrested in the probe with one of the suspects – a 33-year-old man from Pakistan – claiming he was employed by two Greek Cypriots to help in the fixing of marriages between third country nationals and EU member citizens.
Most cases of marriages of convenience in Cyprus involve asylum seekers and visiting citizens from other EU countries who come to the island to get married for a fee and often leave immediately.