The Cypriot government is working hard to kick-start the country's economy and encourage investment on the island with a number of major development initiatives that are now being fast-tracked.

The government has been taking steps to incentivise investors across a range of sectors by introducing measures such as cutting the amount of time required to get planning permission. This has now been reduced to a maximum of one month for small projects and three months for larger ones.

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Building coefficients – the permitted ground area for construction – have also been increased. The building coefficient for large commercial developments in residential areas is up by 30%; large commercial or office developments on the outskirts of residential areas by 25%; and large properties in certain tourist zones by 20%. And the amount of land available for golf courses will increase by 10% to 15%.

Headline news

One of the major headline-grabbing announcements is the green light the government has given to the casino industry to operate an integrated casino resort on the island. According to insiders, this should deliver substantial revenues from gaming and ancillary activities including meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions. In addition, this could attract a number of auxiliary services, including theme parks, restaurants, shops and shopping centres, and could pull in investment worth between €600m and €800m.

“We’ll grant one licence to enable the investor to grow big and provide top-class entertainment,” says Yiorgos Lakkotrypis, Cyprus's minister of energy, commerce, industry and tourism.

“Currently, the government is in the process of selecting a consulting firm to advise it and to take it from now to the end of 2014 when the licence for the new resort project will be issued,” says Christis M Christoforou, chief executive of Deloitte Cyprus consultancy. “There’s lots of legislation to be drafted; the gaming commission has to be set up and processes need to be initiated, including [requests for proposals]. The consultancy will start work on January 1, 2014 and the plan is for the first licence to be issued within 12 months.”

Science park

There are also plans to promote the establishment of a new large science and technology park. This high-impact project will host research centres, business incubators, spin-off innovative enterprises and other local and international knowledge-based companies.

The government has big plans for the development of premium land next to the existing Hilton Hotel in the centre of Nicosia and has already issued requests for proposals. The pocket of land is suitable for a variety of mixed-use developments including hotels, residential buildings, shops, office space, schools and cultural facilities.

Progress is also being made with plans to repurpose former terminals at Larnaca and Paphos International Airports, which are currently disused. The government and airport operator Hermes Airports have made a request for proposals for the project, which has a December 2013 deadline for submissions. It gives developers the chance to repurpose and develop the terminals, which include buildings and land, at both airports. They should be able to capitalise on the strategic location of the sites by developing high-quality schemes that complement airport activities. According to the tender documents, any development should be sustainable, maximise the dwelling yield of the land and capitalise on the sites’ major features.

Hermes will lease the land to the successful bidder for a concession period up until 2031. The government will then enter into a separate land leasing agreement for up to 99 years.