Par­al­imni ma­rina and other projects

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

It was up­set­ting to read the an­nounce­ments of Par­al­imni Mu­nic­i­pal­ity, as well as that of Ayia Napa, sug­gest­ing bu­reau­cratic de­lays to take a fi­nal de­ci­sion on vi­tal projects planned or un­der­way in these ar­eas.

It is as­sumed that most boat own­ers who would be look­ing to berth their yachts or other ves­sels in mari­nas on the east coast are from Ni­cosian, con­sist pri­mar­ily of speed­boats and a very small pro­por­tion of small sail­boats, al­beit small in num­ber, due to the lack of proper shel­ter.

In Par­al­imni, there is of course a fish­ing shel­ter, which is ex­ploited by a num­ber of lo­cal fish­er­men who re­port­edly sub­let their berths to boat-own­ers from Nicosia. The ab­sence of a proper ma­rina in ei­ther re­sort town has led to in­ge­nu­ity of some “boat keep­ers” who have trans­formed farm­land to land­based park­ing space for boats through­out most of the sea­son. The owner calls the boat keeper, who then low­ers the boat into the wa­ter and the owner must swim to get to the boat and the same to re­turn ashore. The cost de­pends on how many times this sys­tem is used and usu­ally amounts to 1,000-1,500 eu­ros per year, equal to the cost of rental of a berth in any ma­rina.

It is also as­sumed that the Fa­m­a­gusta area of eastern Cyprus, faces the most in­jus­tice, both be­cause of the lim­ited in­vest­ments in in­fra­struc­ture, sup­port ser­vices and tourism, as well as be­cause of sea­son­al­ity. Many hopes were raised when there was talk of a golf course in the area, where some in­vestors started to show in­ter­est but even­tu­ally backed out be­cause of chang­ing terms and con­di­tions. I do not ex­pect this golf course ever to be­come a re­al­ity, un­less the gov­ern­ment in­cludes this pro­ject on its pre­mium list of strate­gic in­vest­ments, by fast-track­ing all the nec­es­sary op­er­at­ing and build­ing per­mits and al­low­ing for a speedy at­trac­tion of for­eign in­vestors.

Now we ex­pect to see progress on the con­struc­tion of the Ayia Napa ma­rina, thanks to the Egyp­tian in­vestor who has been found and is will­ing to pump in some 300 mln eu­ros. If all goes well, the pro­ject is ex­pected to be com­pleted (al­beit still pend­ing var­i­ous is­sues and per­mits) within the next two and a half years.

Both the con­struc­tion of this ma­rina, and the golf-ma­rina pro­ject in Par­al­imni will have a pos­i­tive im­pact on ex­tend­ing the tourist sea­son in the area, which al­ready ac­counts for 30% of all for­eign ar­rivals a year, de­spite the fact that the area is fully op­er­a­tional for only six months. Nat­u­rally, with the re­served, but pos­i­tive mo­men­tum in the Cyprus talks, we must not for­get that we may see the re­turn of Fa­m­a­gusta, which too will give a huge boost to tourism and help ex­tend the sea­son, while the con­struc­tion frenzy to re­built the aban­doned city, could pro­vide hun­dreds, if not thou­sands of new jobs, re­viv­ing the eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity of the whole area.

How­ever, the mu­nic­i­pal­ity of both Ayia Napa and Par­al­imni, as well as other mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties in the area should or­gan­ise them­selves bet­ter in or­der to ben­e­fit from all these de­vel­op­ment. The most im­por­tant is­sues are the mis­spellings in English of many signs and com­mu­ni­ca­tion in Ayia Napa, the gross tol­er­ance by Par­al­imni’s mayor of the ugly con­tain­ers along the beach of Pro­taras that have been con­verted into hol­i­day homes, the aban­don­ment of the vol­ley­ball pitch and the sub­se­quent man­age­ment to other on be­half of the mu­nic­i­pal­ity (a com­plaint I raised two years ago but has only now been dis­cov­ered by the Au­di­tor Gen­eral), the cre­ation of fut­sal pitches be­tween Ayia Napa and Par­al­imni to en­cour­age the youth, the elim­i­na­tion of “poach­ers” who pro­mote restau­rants and sou­venir shops, over­charg­ing at clubs mainly of al­co­holic drinks, the ab­sence of proper public trans­porta­tion un­der pres­sure from the gangs of taxi driv­ers who charge 8 eu­ros for a 4 km trip who might even beat you up, as was the case re­cently with Aus­tralian tourists.

There­fore, the con­struc­tion of the Par­al­imni and Ayia Napa mari­nas alone will not solve the prob­lems. We need de­ter­mined peo­ple to be in charge, a cul­ture change and a love for their area by the ‘na­tives’ them­selves who of­ten abuse the sys­tem as was the case lat year of some lo­cally hired public work­ers skim­ming the rev­enues from the hire of sunbeds and um­brel­las. No won­der the mu­nic­i­pal­ity has no cash.

How­ever, as we all live in small com­mu­ni­ties where one is close friends or even re­lated to the other, we should, per­haps, speed up the study into the con­sol­i­da­tion of the mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties of Ayia Napa, Par­al­imni, Dh­eryneia and Sotira, for the ben­e­fit of all. The fact that a num­ber of town of­fi­cials and elected deputies can block the state from im­ple­ment­ing EU di­rec­tives on the lib­eral use of wa­ter sports, as well as com­ments by re­spected MP Stella Kyr­i­akides that op­er­a­tors “should have ex­pe­ri­ence in the area of at least 3-5 years” is the worst that could be done. Such men­tal­i­ties sug­gest that those few who have been ex­ploit­ing wa­ter­sports li­censes will re­main there for life, bar­ring the ar­rival of any new en­trants.

In an ef­fort to boost com­pet­i­tive­ness and re­duce prof­i­teer­ing, the great­est part of re­spon­si­bil­ity lies with the lo­cal mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties that should cre­ate an ‘en­ter­tain­ment guide’ in print or on their web­sites with full trans­parency, oblig­ing all ser­vice providers to pub­lish their rates for all to see for restau­rants, bars, wa­ter­sports, rentals, etc. This could also be a plat­form where com­plaints about over­charg­ing can be prop­erly posted (sup­ported with the rel­e­vant proof). This could be too in­no­va­tive and per­haps unique for Cypriot stan­dards. For ex­am­ple, a tav­ern in Pro­taras charged us 25 eu­ros for a bot­tle of wine, while the same wine was served in a Sotira tav­ern for 18. Un­for­tu­nately, as things are nowa­days, with the over­charg­ing of al­co­holic drinks, the per-per­son cost for a drink is al­most the same as the cost for food. A lit­tle crazy for a coun­try that pro­duces its own wine, don’t you think?

Such ex­am­ples and sug­ges­tions ought to make us all think about year-round tourism, both for the Ni­cosians who need a short break ev­ery now and then, and cer­tainly for all for­eign­ers. But in or­der to suc­ceed, we should all have an open mind and start think­ing clearly for a charge.


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