Holiday accommodation and regional events
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
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.