Aim­ing too high? Im­prov­ing beach ser­vices

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

It is interesting to record how pub­lic beaches are ex­ploited by the var­i­ous mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties and other lo­cal author­i­ties in Cyprus. Beach ser­vice in Cyprus so far has been re­stricted to pro­vid­ing um­brel­las and beach beds. You might think that how much is this worth – I can as­sure you, de­pend­ing on the beach qual­ity and ex­tent, it can reach EUR 1 mln p.a. per area.

The re­cent ex­am­ple at the Par­al­imni area where the beach col­lec­tors (em­ploy­ees of the mu­nic­i­pal­ity) were re­port­ing only half of what they are ac­tu­ally col­lect­ing, upon their re­place­ment the income rose by EUR 400.000 and this for a 3-month sea­son, let alone other ar­eas for the beach use by lo­cals and tourists which are over a 5-6 month sea­son. Sim­i­larly, Ayia Napa with an income for all the pub­lic beaches reach­ing EUR 1.0 mln – now that it is un­der its own man­age­ment – it comes up to (+) EUR 2.0 mln. The money is big and the Troika had sug­gested to us to go out to ten­ders for the beach fa­cil­i­ties. Yet the House with our ob­jec­tion­able MPs turned this down, prompt­ing the Troika to ask “how much mus­cle do the ex­ist­ing beach op­er­a­tors have in this coun­try”? The sit­u­a­tion is get­ting bet­ter nowa­days and some mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties go out to ten­ders much to their ben­e­fit and that of the pub­lic.

The town that took full ad­van­tage of this beach ex­ploita­tion is Li­mas­sol. Along the sea­side prom­e­nade, there are sev­eral beach kiosks which al­though have started only as kiosks-cof­fee shops, have de­vel­oped into beach bars and restau­rants, with a hefty income to the mu­nic­i­pal­ity. Yet, Lar­naca mu­nic­i­pal­ity placed a kiosk on sim­i­lar lines as Li­mas­sol at the Phoeni­coudes beach area, which prompted the District Of­fice to seek a demolition or­der (the Lar­naca Mayor is still won­der­ing what is the dif­fer­ence).

A well or­gan­ised beach has a di­rect re­la­tion to prop­erty/house prices since one can en­joy the beach which is ex­pected to be cleaned with fa­cil­i­ties such as WCs, life­guards, park­ing, etc. A place where the whole fam­ily can en­joy the calm and clean Cyprus sea with safety.

Com­ing back to Par­al­imni, this must be the only mu­nic­i­pal­ity that ap­pears to be or­gan­ised on this as­pect. Each small sandy bay has WC fa­cil­i­ties and nearby park­ing. Ev­ery af­ter­noon, the beaches are cleaned and it is the only mu­nic­i­pal­ity which pro­vides rub­bish bins enough to ac­com­mo­date the vis­i­tors (most pub­lic beaches do not have enough caus­ing peo­ple to place their rub­bish around the rub­bish bins). Be­cause ser­vice brings de­mand it is quite strange that the ex­ten­sive Po­lis-Latchi beach is lim­ited of these fa­cil­i­ties, nor the Paphos and other towns to a great ex­tent.

In coun­tries such as Greece the beaches are op­er­ated mainly by ho­tels, based on fixed goods charges and who pro­vide, through a mov­able kiosk all sorts of drinks, in­clud­ing al­co­hol, sand­wiches, etc. An in­no­va­tive hote­lier at Mykonos, who is op­er­at­ing a beach (Psarou and oth­ers), in ad­di­tion to the beds and um­brel­las has in­stalled at in­ter­vals walkie-talkies, so that one can or­der what­ever he likes while re­lax­ing on the beach. Much to our sur­prise most (for­eign) vis­tors or­dered cham­pagne which comes with a bucket full of ice, an um­brella cover and a stand – call it a show-off, call it a con­ve­nience, there were not enough wait­ers to go around!

Good and ser­viced beaches are those which we usu­ally seen in our TVs in the U.S. re­sorts and oth­ers, but there is a lot of beach busi­ness and oth­er­wise for this type of fa­cil­i­ties. Com­ing back to Mykonos near a ser­viced beach around a bay, there is a lux­u­ri­ous hol­i­day home de­vel­op­ment, which, we were told by a proud Dutch res­i­dent that “the beach ser­vice/fa­cil­i­ties is all the money that we spend to buy the prop­erty”. Of course, there must be client ser­vice on some beaches, in­clud­ing Cyprus, the or­gan­i­sa­tion and fa­cil­i­ties reg­u­la­tions (which we can copy from other coun­tries) to make it work for ev­ery­body’s ben­e­fit. Our Mykonos Dutch friend added that “we paid for this house EUR 1.5 mln and we have at­trib­uted the EUR 0.5 mln to the or­gan­ised beach. Of course, if one minds other peo­ple on the beach the or­gan­ised beaches can be a mi­nus he added. The night par­ties are a prob­lem and the Psarou beach (Mykonos) is not for us with the all night par­ties and live disco. Lovely if you are up to 40 years and small units near this beach are much in de­mand sell­ing at EUR 5.000/sq.m.! He ex­plained to us that the beach en­ter­tain­ment is part of the lo­cal cul­ture that the lo­cal author­i­ties are on the band­wagon and ac­tu­ally turn rocky beaches to ar­ti­fi­cially sandy bays to ac­com­mo­date de­mand (and the author­i­ties’ income) – See my re­cent ar­ti­cle on Beach Im­prove­ments V De­struc­tion.

In an­other ar­ti­cle of mine, which you might re­mem­ber, I re­ferred to the in­no­va­tive Cypriot idea of beach con­tainer hous­ing. This time we came up with an­other idea, but this time the money in­volved is so much that we doubt that the ex­ist­ing “beach Mafia group” in Cyprus will let it hap­pen to an ex­ten­sive way.

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