By Antonis Loizou FRICS
THERE is a lot of talk about measures to extend the tourist season from March to November. But after so many years there is not a single 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. Elongating the tourist season is 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.
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 is our competitive edge is the weather which in the mildest of our competitors. The second is the improving infrastructure with five golf courses open to the public (expensive in relation to Turkey), the English speaking language/European attitude and security of living. But then what will the ‘winter/off season’ tourist do?
Outdoor activities: In addition to golf, there is a wealth of possibility using outdoor activities and including the use of reservoirs for sports such as rowing, sailing for small boats, ski lessons, dragon racing, fishing competitions etc (subject to water capacity). Outdoor activities could include competitions in sports such as beachvolley, badminton, tennis etc with hotels taking an active part.
Adventure trails: These natural trails are becoming more and more popular especially those in the mountain area. The trails could be used for walks, nature exploration with the ever enthusiastic Forestry Department employees, donkey rides and charity events.
Gastro tourism: Tourists could be taught how to make local dishes under the directions of a chef.
Religious visits: Surprisingly enthusiastic bishops are ready to facilitate free of charge any excursion for visits to historic churches and monasteries.
Agrotourism: Not exploited to any satisfactory degree, yet there are so many attractive establishments, including in Omodhos village, which combines a wine factory trail, winery visits and a big party at the evening with local music/dancers etc.
Festivals (paniyiria): There is just about one every week, where local rural producers sell their goods. Great for young and old.
There are so many other 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 should be undertaken by the CTO or others in private practice to make a comprehensive list of the happenings and their attraction. This leadership must get the costing right and provide a comprehensive list of things to do, discuss the whole idea with tour operators and promote the project to foreign (and of course local) potential clients. Those interested in registering on a “recommended list” to pay a small fee (say €100pa) to be included in the promotional material subject to their commitment on quality and prices. All those to be checked regularly.
There is also vine picking in Pissouri (no pay but lunch and drink free) and potato picking in Famagusta region (each picker gets 5kg of potatoes free) which can be great fun. The list though of what could be done is endless but will any of it be developed to meet the planned aims?