Ayia Napa Mayor Yiannis Karousos’ initiative to rid the resort of ‘low quality’ young tourists from Britain is brave even though it comes across as rather discriminatory. Then again, the Ayia Napa municipality is perfectly within its rights to rebrand and reposition itself in the tourism market if it has decided it no longer wants to be sold as a party destination for youths.
The resort has acquired a reputation for wild partying becoming a very popular destination for youths from Britain, who spent their holidays drinking, clubbing and engaging in loutish behaviour. They were tolerated when the resort was not doing so well but now that hotels are overbooked, the mayor fears the louts could drive away the older tourists.
Karousos explained his reasoning in a letter published in the UK’s Telegraph newspaper, in which he said the ‘low quality’ youth tourism accounted for only 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. He did not mince his words in the letter, saying that youths and all their related business partners (tour operators, nightlife event organisers etc) “are not welcomed in Ayia Napa [sic].” This type of tourism was “not in line with our future strategy and our vision,” he wrote.
How he will realise his vision is not clear. This is a free market and it will be very difficult to prevent young Brits booking holidays here. Can he stop tour operators booking holidays for youths in Ayia Napa? Even if tour operators specialising in lads’ holidays were banned, the youths could still rent a hotel apartment/villa through the internet or use the main tour operators to book a hotel room. In the highly unlikely event that he is successful he would then have some very angry locals on his back – owners of bars, clubs, quad-bike rentals, taxi-drivers and so forth – because their revenue would fall significantly.
The fact that Karousos used a British national daily that none of the British youths read to tell them that they were no longer welcome in Ayia Napa indicated the mayor does not really know how to achieve his objective. He cannot simply ban Britons under 25 from booking a holiday in Ayia Napa. Perhaps the Ayia Napa authorities will get tough and crack down on loutish and drunken behaviour this summer in the hope the youths would not want to come back. The installing of CCTV across the town suggests a zero tolerance policy would be implemented.
It remains to be seen how successful the mayor’s drive to get rid of ‘low quality’ tourists will be.