Aiming too high? Improving beach services
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.