Those bright red, mostly British men, stripped down to the waist with an ever expanding stomach on full display along with an array of tattoos, have become a fixture on the streets and in bars, cafes and even supermarkets in tourist areas.
But this popular British male practice of stripping off to the waist is upsetting Paphos locals who say that standards in Paphos are dropping and urge businesses to insist on customers sporting “proper attire”.
Paphos resident Laura Neville, 32, says that the numbers or shirtless men seen out in public are increasing every year.
“I’m not adverse to the human body, I’m not a prude, but there is a time and a place for everything,” she said.
“Cloth seats, plastic and metal chairs, wood and leather, they seem unconcerned about hygiene or decency and now they are becoming braver and venturing into shops and supermarkets in this state of undress. Revolting!”
Some shops, including Papantoniou supermarket in Kato Paphos – the main tourist area in the town – have a sign outside politely requesting shoppers to refrain from entering whilst in swimwear, and a number of shop keepers say they have been forced to ask people to dress suitably.
“We have seen some terrible sights in the supermarket, but many of us are too embarrassed to ask the customers to leave and come back in more appropriate clothes. Some come in with only bikinis and swimming trunks, it is usual these days to see men without their tops on,” a Papantoniou supermarket staff member said.
“We realise that people are on holiday, but it’s not nice. It would be much better if they cover up a bit.”
When the Sunday Mail took an afternoon stroll along the Kato Paphos seafront on Thursday, most of the cafes and bars had at least one or two outdoor tables complete with a shirtless man.
Many of the premises asked said they would much prefer it if customers were properly clothed, but were also unwilling to be named in the article for fear of driving away custom.
One café owner whose busy venue is situated directly opposite the sea and has a large number of outdoor tables, said: “It’s really unpleasant to look at some of these people. I don’t want to be unkind but they are mostly overweight and don’t look nice.
“But I wouldn’t ask them to put a top on as I would be concerned that they would choose another place to eat instead of mine.”
But this lackadaisical approach could be backfiring on businesses, as the ever growing numbers of poorly attired customers are making some locals stay away.
“I have definitely not gone into some of the cafes and restaurants in Kato Paphos because of the numbers of men – mostly tourists – sitting there without tops on and it all hanging out,” said Paphos resident Sandra Taylor, 54.
“It seems to be mostly the older generation – my age and up – who like to do this and the women are doing it too; I have seen a few in bikinis which barely covered a generous girth and droopy chest. It’s not what you want to look at whilst tucking into a meal is it.”
David Reid, 64, and his wife Jennifer, 64, are from Perth in Scotland and own a holiday home in Paphos which they visit three or four times a year. Reid says he often strolls along the seafront without his top and sits at a café without his shirt during the day.
“We don’t get to see the sun in Scotland very often and it’s hot here. Live and let live I say. I don’t see a problem with men being shirtless at bars and cafés which are close to the sea.”
However, he draws the line at not wearing a shirt to a restaurant, a more up market venue or if he were sipping a drink in the old town area of Paphos.
Friend Colin Douglas, 63, agrees. “I am often without my top when it’s hot here. We come to Paphos at least once a year, but I would always wear a top in a restaurant. We are an older generation so we wouldn’t do that, like some of the youngsters.”
Wife Anne, 57, says she wouldn’t venture into a café wearing only a bikini top to cover her top half. “I don’t think it’s appropriate, I’m too old for all that,” she said.
Jennifer Reid added: “I think it’s awful when you see men without their tops in restaurants. It’s OK at a relaxed café during the day when it’s hot, but not at night, men should be covered.”
Some places in Paphos are still insistent on a dress code though, not least the UKCA – the United Kingdom Citizens’ Association. The club is situated at a venue which also serves food and drinks.
“We operate a dress code at our club which came into effect some years ago. Gents are allowed to wear shorts but must wear a shirt with sleeves – no vests are allowed. Women do not have to have tops with sleeves but no bare midriffs are allowed,” chairman Steve Kaye said.
“People on holiday are expecting to have a good time and they should be able to relax, but dress appropriately to the situation. I don’t see a problem with men sitting at an outside table shirtless to soak up the sun as long as it’s appropriate for the venue.”
But he said club rules were strict on the subject of apparel. “We have a rail of freshly washed and pressed shirts by our entrance door for any of our members or guests to wear if they don’t have the correct clothing.”
Even though locals and businesses are vocal in their criticism of the ‘half clothed man’ it seems they have yet to complain to the local authorities.
“We haven’t received any complaints on the subject from anyone. Not travel agents, holiday makers or local restaurants, cafes or bars,” said a member of the local tourist board.
Those tattooed torsos, it seems, are here to stay.