There is a lot of talk on mea­sures to be un­der­taken in an ef­fort to ex­tend the tourist sea­son by at least two months (Oc­to­ber and Novem­ber) at the end of the sea­son and two months (March and April) at the start of the next.

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

The wor­ry­ing thing is that after so many years there is not a sin­gle solid pro­posal of a tan­gi­ble na­ture, other than the pro­posal for the rest of us to sub­sidise the hote­liers and tour op­er­a­tors, so that tourists get a lower cost hol­i­day. In other words, all we Cyprus tax­pay­ers, will con­trib­ute in ad­di­tion to hote­liers/tour op­er­a­tors and help “cheaters” (e.g. restau­rants, tax driv­ers and oth­ers) to make more money. So far we are do­ing well due to the mis­for­tune of other des­ti­na­tions, but how long will this last for, an­other 1-2 years?

Ex­tend­ing the tourist sea­son is most im­por­tant for the real es­tate mar­ket which goes hand in hand with the tourist in­dus­try in terms of Cyprus pop­u­lar­ity and for rental/in­come pur­poses, mak­ing such in­vest­ments more at­trac­tive.

In or­der for the tourist sea­son to be ex­tended we need first to com­pare our prod­uct with our com­peti­tors, such as Greece, Turkey and grad­u­ally re­cov­er­ing Egypt. This might be ex­am­ined first in terms of travel cost and their cost of liv­ing/hol­i­day.

Since the clo­sure of the ear­lier state-owned Cyprus Air­ways, things are im­prov­ing with new mar­ket sources and lower travel cost.

The first in our com­pet­i­tive edge is the weather which in the mildest range of our com­peti­tors. The sec­ond is the im­prov­ing in­fra­struc­ture with the five golf cour­ses open to the pub­lic (ex­pen­sive in re­la­tion to Turkey), the English speak­ing lan­guage/Euro­pean at­ti­tude to an ex­tent (try Turkey/Egypt) and se­cu­rity of liv­ing.

But then what is the “win­ter/off sea­son” tourist go­ing to do? It needs or­gan­i­sa­tion and pro­mo­tion of things to do and an imag­i­na­tive team of hote­liers/tour op­er­a­tors/C.T.O. – (if the lat­ter has the time to work after their in­ter­nal quar­relling).

It is my opin­ion that, first, one pre­pares the pack­age, it presents it to the tour op­er­a­tors and then sup­ple­ment the pack­age with what­ever is needed. So, what are the off sea­son tourists to do in Cyprus?

In ad­di­tion to golf, there is a wealth of pos­si­bil­i­ties us­ing out­door ac­tiv­i­ties and in­clud­ing the use of the wa­ter dams for sport, e.g. row­ing, sail­ing for small boats, ski lessons, dragon rac­ing, fish­ing com­pe­ti­tions, etc (sub­ject to wa­ter ca­pac­ity). There could be one club in each lo­ca­tion (B.O.T. pro­jects) with the tour op­er­a­tors/hote­liers’ con­tri­bu­tion. The out­door ac­tiv­i­ties can in­clude in­ter-ho­tels com­pe­ti­tions such as beach vol­ley, badminton, ten­nis, etc. Lo­cal as­so­ci­a­tions can as­sist in this - de­spite the ma­jor prob­lem re­gard­ing pend­ing reg­u­la­tions in the House to be ap­proved for wa­ter dams for their use for sports for the last ten years.

Out­door Ac­tiv­i­ties:

Ad­ven­ture Trails:

These na­ture trails are be­com­ing more and more pop­u­lar es­pe­cially those in the moun­tain ar­eas (Troo­dos). The trails could be used for walks, na­ture ex­plo­ration with the ever en­thu­si­as­tic Forestry Depart­ment em­ploy­ees (see new botanic gar­den at Amian­dos), don­key rides, in­clud­ing fun races us­ing fa­cil­i­ties (to an ex­tent) of the SBA (Se­cret Val­ley) since the S.B.A. is most co­op­er­a­tive, es­pe­cially for char­ity events.

An in­no­va­tive pop­u­lar venue at Samos is­land dur­ing the win­ter sea­son. The tourists are taught how to make lo­cal dishes, e.g. mousaka, sougla, pas­tic­cio, etc, un­der the di­rec­tions of a chef. Each tourist pre­pares his own dish with a prize at the end.

Young and old dream to ride a horse (or don­key) with a log cabin/ restau­rant at the end. More suit­able for the young in age but also those young at heart. Try the Kour­ris or Ezousa dry bed rivers. We had one overnight stay in the open dur­ing sum­mer in tents at Kour­ris (don­keys – tents, etc) which was great fun.

Sur­pris­ingly en­thu­si­as­tic clergy are ready to fa­cil­i­tate free of charge any ex­cur­sion for vis­its to his­toric churches and monas­ter­ies.

Food Recipes:

Cow­boy Trails:

Re­li­gious

Vis­its:

Bi­cy­cling/Mo­tor

Agro­tourism:

bik­ing/Car

Fes­ti­vals (Paniyiria):

Rac­ing,

etc:

You might think that there are no rac­ing tracks for such events. Yet, I visit from time to time the Ayia Var­vara (Ni­cosia) mo­tor­bike track, one in Paphos as well, a sail­ing school at Paphos and hope­fully an­other one at the Zyghi ma­rina, un­der­wa­ter ex­plo­ration (with the Li­mas­sol-Par­al­imni pur­posely sunk boats), the “un­der con­struc­tion” un­der­wa­ter park at Ayia Napa (an­nounced but did not hap­pen) and so many other ven­tures.

This sort of “new busi­ness” are most suit­able for young es­pe­cially un­em­ployed pro­fes­sion­als and oth­ers who are sub­sidised by the Cyprus gov­ern­ment and the E.U. for young en­trepreneurs. I must tell you about a friend of ours who has stud­ied at the Lon­don School of Eco­nom­ics, he then be­came a char­tered ac­coun­tant (now aged 31 years), he did not like his job and is now con­sid­er­ing to ven­ture into wa­ter sports, yoga and diet cour­ses (healthy liv­ing). Why not?

Not ex­ploited to any sat­is­fac­tory de­gree, yet there are so many at­trac­tive es­tab­lish­ments. Our fa­vorite is at Omod­hos vil­lage, which com­bines a win­ery route, win­ery vis­its and a big party at the even­ing with lo­cal mu­sic/dancers, etc. A day visit to three lo­cal winer­ies (all free) is an ex­pe­ri­ence – see Erimi to Omod­hos “wine” road.

There is just about one ev­ery week, where lo­cal ru­ral pro­duc­ers sell their goods, rang­ing from lo­cal ar­ti­facs to pot­tery and food (such as nuts, corn, shoushoukko, lizo, chest­nuts on char­coal, peanuts, wal­nuts, al­monds, etc etc). Lovely for young and old.

There are so many more things to do for all ages and this ar­ti­cle is not big enough to in­clude them all.

So, how do we go about it? First of all, the lead­er­ship is to be un­der­taken by the C.T.O. (a very good sug­ges­tion for a Deputy Min­istry of Tourism) or oth­ers in pri­vate prac­tice to make a com­pre­hen­sive list of the events and their at­trac­tion (hard copy leaflets and a web­site is a must). This lead­er­ship must get the cost­ing right and pro­vide a com­pre­hen­sive “things to do” list, dis­cuss the whole pro­gramme with tour op­er­a­tors and pro­mote the project to for­eign (and of course lo­cal) po­ten­tial clients.

Use E.U. funds to pro­mote en­vi­ron­men­tal funds, new en­trepreneurs and unem­ploy­ment funds. But then, we have to con­front the taxis, restau­rants, tav­erns, etc. who must come un­der strict con­trol by in­spec­tors re­gard­ing prices, since as we have re­ported in the past there is a lot of day­light rob­bery go­ing around.

Those in­ter­ested to reg­is­ter into a “rec­om­mended list”, would need to pay a small fee (say 100 eu­ros p.a.) to be in­cluded in the pro­mo­tional ma­te­rial sub­ject to their com­mit­ment on qual­ity and prices. All those to be checked reg­u­larly by in­spec­tions so that we do not have the same sit­u­a­tion as is to­day.

Do we have the ca­pa­bil­ity to do this? Of course, we do, but then do we have the or­gan­i­sa­tion and hon­est deal­ings? For this I have my doubts – with­out a plan this is dif­fi­cult.

On an­other note, do you know of the don­key farm at Skari­nou vil­lage, which is de­vel­op­ing not only for tourist pur­poses, but also pro­mot­ing don­key milk and its side prod­ucts (the Camel Farm at Ma­zo­tos, etc.)? Do you know about vine pick­ing at the Pis­souri area (no pay, but lunch and drink is free), potato pick­ing at Fa­m­a­gusta re­gion – great fun. Each picker gets 5 ki­los of pota­toes free or he can cash it with the sougla that comes in ex­change. Has any­one thought of dog train­ing on a pro­fes­sional side? Lessons are given for 15 days.

These are some ideas for ex­tend­ing the tourist sea­son and the list is end­less. With this ar­ti­cle I hope I pro­vided some food for thought, es­pe­cially to those sleep­ers in the tourist in­dus­try and to those con­stantly de­mand­ing sub­si­dies, the hote­liers, trade unions and oth­ers.

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