Unlicensed wedding planning in Paphos, an increasing phenomenon, is significantly hurting the tourism industry and robbing the local economy and professionals, international travel agencies have warned.
Deputy Paphos Mayor Marios Papis said 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.
He said there have been many cases reported of unlicensed civil wedding ceremonies taking place in the areas of Paphos and Yeroskipou and that the phenomenon is increasing.
International travel agencies warned that if the situation does not change they will stop promoting Cyprus as an ideal destination for civil marriages and will move this tourist wave to neighbouring countries.
“We are not just talking about photographers but also florists, drivers and caterers”.
Papis reminded that unlicensed 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 licensed 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 marriages 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.