By Bejay Browne
MANY VISITORS to Paphos archaeological park, which attracts hundreds of people every day, say that more information needs to be made available about the ruins and artefacts which lie inside.
Paphos has some of the finest examples in Eastern Mediterranean of mosaics and these form part of a larger UNESCO World Heritage Site. This area covers a large swathe of Kato Paphos close to the picturesque harbour, and has been a popular tourist attraction since it was included onto the list of heritage sites back in 1980.
Although the area has been upgraded considerably over the last three decades some visitors say more could be done to make a visit a more informed experience.
British honeymooners, Martin and Carol Jackson, said they had a rough idea about what to expect at the park, as they had read about it prior to their visit.
“Walking around, I would say what’s really missing is some small plaques next to each site explaining exactly what each ruin is, so that you know what you’re looking at,” said Martin Jackson.
His wife said that although there is a visitor’s centre, where visitors can buy guide books, the staff on the main gate had not told them about it.
“We just paid and came in,” she said.
She also suggested that audio information in a wide range of languages, like that available at Stonehenge in the UK, would make the visit more rewarding.
The couple agreed that although the park is definitely worth a visit and a very interesting experience, it could do with a good deal more information.
On arriving at the site, visitors pay a nominal fee of 3.40 euros which gives access to the entire archaeological park of which the mosaics are a popular part. No information or leaflets are available at the entrance although staff say, when they’re asked, they inform visitors that a comprehensive guide book is available priced at 5.50 euros at the visitors’ centre, a short walk away inside the park.
A map outside the centre indicates in both Greek and English where the main attractions can be found and there is more information on the walls inside the centre.
“It would be a good idea to have leaflets to give away as we have many visitors asking for this, but it’s just not a practical solution. We have many people visiting here, around six to seven hundred each day,” a staff member said.
Inside the centre there is a small seated area and a video explains the history of the archaeological park, but some visitors said that more could be done with the available space.
A party of Russian visitors on a day trip described it as magnificent but noted that there is a general lack of information.
“More could be offered at the visitors’ centre, perhaps displays of artefacts discovered at the site, more about the history, some models of how the ruins might have looked when they were complete and more literature for people to take away with them,” said one woman.
A German couple on holiday from Munich agreed that the park was well worth a visit but felt that more could be done to cater to visitors’ needs, without spoiling the feel of the park.
“The park could benefit hugely from a tasteful café and proper souvenir shop,” they said.
Well-stocked souvenir shops are huge money earners for all historical sites in the UK and Europe generally.
Nassos Hadjigeorgiou, manager of the Paphos regional board of tourism confirmed that plans are underway to upgrade information available to visitors. He added that postcards, DVDs and books are already available to purchase at the visitors centre, along with a small selection of memorabilia.
“But there is room for improvement,” he said. “We (along with the department of antiquities) are now in the process of planning audio guides, which will be available in at least five different languages.”
These are expected to be made available to the public before the end of the year.
“The possibility of installing interactive units with touch screens inside the visitors centre is also being examined. This is an innovative project using new technology.”