Ayia Napa Mayor Yiannis Karousos has written a letter to media and tour operators abroad saying ‘low-quality’ tourists such as ‘lads-style’ holidaymakers were undesirable at the popular resort.
The letter was published in the UK’s Telegraph newspaper under the headline ‘Boozy lads no longer welcome in Ayia Napa, mayor warns’ because he wants to make Ayia Napa into “the most cosmopolitan tourist resort of the Mediterranean”.
Karousos said that after discussions with other interested parties it was time to end the “low quality youth” market because it only counted for around 8 per cent of arrivals to the resort and he did not want the other 90 per cent to be put off by loutish behaviour.
Ayia Napa has had a rocky path to tourism success over the years from being popular with Cypriot youth back in the eighties to a noisy and troubled clubbing attraction in the nineties, a lull over the following decade and a resurgence in recent years as a party destination, and all of the headaches that brings in terms of law enforcement and reputation.
“We shall not allow a small number of our visitors to turn away the remaining 90 per cent, with their negative actions and behaviours,” said Karousos in his letter.
“We would therefore like to make it public that such inappropriate behaviour from certain clientele (low quality youth market) and all their related business partners (tour operators, nightlife event organisers, etc.) are not welcomed in Ayia Napa [sic].”
Karousos said a new CCTV system would also be installed across the town to prevent and punish “illegal behaviour”.
According to the Telegraph, quoting the mayor, Karousos said the resort had welcomed vast investment in new hotels and apartments but more was needed to rid a style of tourism “not in line with our future strategy and our vision”. It mentioned the new €220m marina is set to open next year.
Karousos referred to the ‘organised youth’ who misbehave, do not respect the laws of Cyprus, “and with their actions creates negative publicity and actually do damage [to] the reputation of the brand name Ayia Napa”.
The Telegraph said that some resorts in Spain were taking similar actions. Last December Tom Smedley, managing director of Compare-Travel.eu, which counts ladsholiday.com among its portfolio, told Telegraph Travel that the days of the lads holiday were numbered.
“Society’s changing, drinking culture is changing. Early on the drinking was the main part of the holiday, now it is a part of it. It’s reflective of the UK: increasing sophistication of society is driving it. “People want to go to nice hotels, like they want to go to cocktail bars on a Saturday night in the UK.”
Ladsholiday.com, site for boozy male holidays, describes Ayia Napa thus: “If you and your mates want a lads holiday destination that is a cut above many other resorts, then Ayia Napa on the island of Cyprus‚ has been giving groups of lads exactly what they want for the last few years.”
It says with a massive number of clubs backed up by some top-class bars and pubs, and combined with some postcard-quality beaches where you can chill out in the day, “Ayia Napa is a lads holiday destination that ticks all the boxes”.
“Ayia Napa used to be a tiny, peaceful, fishing village. Not any more – Cyprus has embraced club culture and the island now actively encourages groups to come here and party hard in what is always a destination with a good, friendly vibe, and lots of like-minded lads and classy ladies,” it adds.
But not for Karousos. He said his vision for the resort is more in line with the island’s national tourism strategy.