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Elongating the Tourist Season & Real Estate Demand
1 October 2017
There is a lot of talk on measures to be undertaken in an effort to elongate the tourist season for at least 2 months (October & November) end of season and 2 months (March & April) start of it. 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 subsidize the hoteliers and tour operators, so that tourists get a lower cost holiday. In other words, we, all in Cyprus tax payers, to 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 others but how long this will last, another 1-2 years? Elongating 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 elongated we need first to compare our product with our competitors, such as Greece, Turkey and gradually reviving Egypt. This might be examined first in terms of travel cost and their cost of living/holiday. Since the closure of the ex 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 of our competitors. The second is the improving infrastructure with the 5 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 will the “winter/off season” tourist going to do dear readers? It needs organization 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 our opinion that, first, one prepares the package, it presents it to the tour operators and then supplement the package with whatever it is needed. So what are the off season tourist to do in Cyprus?
Outdoor Activities: In addition to golf, there is a wealth of possibility 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 - See major problem regarding pending regulations to be approved for water dams for their use for sports for the last 10 years at the House!!
Adventure Trails: These natural trails are becoming more and more popular especially those in the mountain area (see 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 (see Secret Valley) since the S.B.A. is most cooperative especially for charity events.
Food Recipes: An innovative popular venue at Samos island during the winter season. The tourists are taught how to make local dishes, e.g. mousaka, sougla, spaghetti etc under the directions of a chef. Each tourist prepares his own dish with prize at the end.
Cowboy Trails: Young and old dream to ride a horse (or donkey) with a log cabin/ restaurant at the end. More suitable for the young age but also those with young at hart. Try the Kourris or Ezusa dry bed rivers. We had one overnight stay in the open during summer in tents at Kourris (donkeys - tends etc) - Great fun.
Religious Visits: Surprising enthusiastic bishops ready to facilitate free of charge any excursion for visits in historic churches and monasteries.
Bicycling/Motor biking/Car Racing etc: You might think that there are no racing, trucks for such events. Yet we visit from time to time the Ayia Varvara (Nicosia) motorbike truck games, one in Pafos as well, a sailing school at Pafos and hopefully another one at the Zyghi marina, underwater exploration (see Limassol - Paralimni the 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 subsidized by the Cyprus Government and the E.U. for young entrepreneurs. We must tell you about a friend of ours who has studied at the London School of Economics, he then became a chartered accountant (age now 31 years), he did not like his job and is now considering to venture in water sports, yoga and diet courses (healthy living). Why not?
Agrotourism: Not exploited to any satisfactory degree, yet there are so many attractive establishments. Our favorite is at Omodhos village, which combines a wine factory trail, winery visits and a big party at the evening with local music/dancers etc.
A day visit to 3 local wineries (all free) is an experience – see Erimi to Omodhos “wine” road.
Festivals (Paniyiria): 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, shoushoukkos, lizo, chestnuts on charcoal, peanuts, walnuts, almonds etc etc). Lovely for young and old.
There are so many other things to do for all ages and this article is not big enough to include 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 happenings and their attraction (hard copy and website a must). This leadership must get the costing right and provide a comprehensive “things to do”, discuss the whole idea program with tour operators and promote the project to our foreign (and of course local) potential clients. Use E.U. funds to promote under 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 in this paper there is a lot of thieving around. Those interested to register into a “recommended list”, to pay a small fee (say €100 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 organization and inherent honest dealings? For this we have our 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 in addition)? You do know about vine picking at the Pissouri area (no pay but lunch and drink 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 a dog training on a professional side? Lessons are given for 15 days. The two young people (accountants please!!) cannot cope, too much demand.
You do appreciate that these are some ideas for elongating the tourist season and the list is endless. In this article we hope we provide some food for thought, especially to those sleepers in the tourist industry and to the never demanding for subsidies, the hoteliers and others.