Hol­i­day ac­com­mo­da­tion and re­gional events

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

How in­ter­con­nected the world econ­omy is has been con­stantly con­firmed. One coun­try de­pends to some ex­tent on the other, not only in the po­lit­i­cal field but also in their economies.

Three years ago, our tourism in­dus­try had reached rock bot­tom and sud­denly the past two sea­sons have been a ris­ing de­mand mainly due to: • The tragic events in Egypt; • The fear of tourists to visit Mus­lim coun­tries; • The con­flict be­tween Tur­key and Rus­sia; • The clo­sure of Cyprus Air­ways; • Labour peace be­tween unions and em­ploy­ers; • The flex­i­bil­ity and im­me­di­ate re­sponse of Cyprus ne­glected mar­kets in Europe;

• The par­tial cost re­duc­tion re­duc­tion of prop­erty tax;

• The gov­ern­ment in­cen­tives to in­crease the build­ing co­ef­fi­cient (Condo Ho­tels) as well as in­cen­tives to ex­pand and up­grade ho­tels.

We ex­pect that th­ese re­sults will be con­sid­ered favourably. The up­grade and main­te­nance of ho­tels in all coastal ar­eas, es­pe­cially in Ayia Napa where al­most all ho­tels have been up­graded, fol­lowed by Par­al­imni (two new ho­tels were added), as well as con­tin­u­ous new in­fras­truc­ture work will help maintain the in­ter­est of tourists.

Equally im­por­tant is the role that may­ors and stake­hold­ers are play­ing. Lead­ing by ex­am­ple is

of

to

elec­tric­ity and now the lo­cal

the Mu­nic­i­pal­ity of Agia Napa (de­spite its im­per­fec­tions in the English lan­guage – where signs say Open Park in­stead of Open Air Park), the events in Li­mas­sol, the two an­tic­i­pated mari­nas (Ayia Napa-Par­al­imni) are pos­i­tive fac­tors, while the lack of a broader vi­sion for sports tourism is a mat­ter to be stud­ied in the fu­ture.

Re­turn­ing to the role of may­ors and lo­cal author­i­ties, even where there is ques­tion­able eco­nomic suc­cess, the ef­fort is com­mend­able, such as in Pe­doulas, and the in­ten­si­fi­ca­tion of of fes­ti­vals and fairs.

What is of con­cern is that while the num­bers of for­eign­ers are in­creas­ing, in­comes are not ris­ing at the same rate and are about 30% less. This is due the il­le­gal rental of vil­las di­rectly by the own­ers to strangers, with­out pay­ment of any fee (and with the CTO’s tol­er­ance), while as strange as it may sound, re­li­gious tourism has be­gun to gain in in­ter­est in the vil­lages of Troo­dos (al­beit only for cof­fee and food - but not for ac­com­mo­da­tion) with the main in­ter­est shown by Rus­sian vis­i­tors.

The moun­tain re­sorts re­main the poor rel­a­tive of the tourist in­dus­try, as is the case of Pla­tres. We need a more imag­i­na­tive vi­sion for this category of ho­tels and re­sort vil­lages to be re­vived: • Limit so­cial tourism only to moun­tain re­sorts. • Sub­sidise up­grades by up to 50% of the cost. • Sub­sidise moun­tain re­sorts with a grant for 30% of wages and ben­e­fits, for ho­tels in op­er­a­tion at least eight months a year.

• Joint promotion of moun­tain re­sorts at in­ter­na­tional ex­hi­bi­tions and by a sep­a­rate Promotion Com­mit­tee that will en­joy a 100% sub­sidy.

• Relax out­stand­ing build­ing per­mits and a wider re­lax­ation of reg­u­la­tions so that the lat­est di­rec­tive of the Min­istry of In­te­rior for hous­ing units ex­tends to moun­tain re­sorts for tourism projects.

• Sub­sidise vis­i­tor trips from the beach re­sorts by up to 30% of the tour cost.

• En­cour­age schools top con­duct more tours and vis­its not only to get ac­quainted with the re­sorts, but also for young peo­ple to use the na­ture trails and the dif­fer­ent sports fa­cil­i­ties (ten­nis), ad­ven­ture parks, the Troo­dos geop­ark, etc.

It is of course un­der­stood that the above will be costly to the State, but the cost will be much lower than the di­rect aid that would need to go to the res­i­dents and busi­nesses of the moun­tain re­sorts in or­der to stay open. At the same time, main­tain­ing the nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment should be a pri­or­ity of the gov­ern­ment. Per­haps the cur­rent in­hab­i­tants of the moun­tain re­sorts are the last re­main­ing who af­ter 5-10 years will aban­don their homes, with vil­lages be­ing emp­tied and used only for sea­sonal ac­tiv­i­ties.

Un­for­tu­nately, the an­nounce­ment of mea­sures to their im­ple­men­ta­tion and see­ing the re­sults take time, which is not a lux­ury we can af­ford right now.

I re­gret the lack of an in­de­pen­dent strat­egy for the moun­tain re­sorts, which have been dwarfed by the needs of the hote­liers in other and coastal towns.

I re­cently had an un­for­get­table ex­pe­ri­ence of a trip to the Kouris River that started from Erimi and ended up in the vil­lage of Trim­ik­lini – it was a group of ten peo­ple with three don­keys for trans­port­ing sup­plies and for two nights camp­ing.

Fi­nally, there is also the is­sue of the dams that could be bet­ter utilised for wa­ter sports and train­ing by for­eign teams, on and off sea­son.

Now is the time for the im­me­di­ate study and im­ple­men­ta­tion of many strate­gies, some of which are ready but have not been put to use in years.

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