Cyprus winemakers are counting the cost of the coronavirus pandemic which put the island in a three month lockdown and brought the tourism and hospitality sector to a near standstill.
They told the House Commerce Committee on Tuesday that the problem with over-supply amid low consumption and few exports is further compounded by inadequate controls on imports.
Markos Zambartas of Zambartas winery said the legislation for better checks of imported wine were there, but these were not being carried out. The labels on some wines do not correctly reflect the contents, while an additional problem is a black market in the sale of zivania and wine with which they cannot compete.
Exports represent only 5% of total production while much of the consumption of local wine is by tourists. Cyprus last year welcomed close to 4 million tourists. The best case scenario amid the uncertainty created by the coronavirus outbreak is that it will manage to attract one million visitors this year.
Thanasis Ignatiou of Ignatiou Winery suggested a programme supporting Cyprus wines at foreign fairs return, while Marinos Pericleous, speaking on behalf of Sodap said there was already large quantities of wine from last year and the problem will only become more acute this year. He suggested that Cypriot products be promoted in hotels and elsewhere.
Agricultural organisations urged support for wine makers and grape growers who risk not be able to sell large quantities of their produce.
Elena Christofidou of the deputy ministry of tourism, said there were programmes for certified businesses to offer Cypriot products as well as others for Cypriot cuisine. She added that it would be a good thing for a special programme on wine.
Vasilis Sergiou said that wineries were subsidised up to a maximum of 3750 euro to participate in wine exhibitions abroad while there were thoughts of a state pavilion.
In its next budget, the ministry will allocate finds to help producers finance applications to register their products as protected designation of origin. The registration of hiromeri, lountza and Pitsilia sausage was progressing, MPs heard.