By Bejay Browne
YEROSKIPOU municipality in Paphos is fighting for a cash injection it urgently needs in order to prevent the public swimming pool from forced closure during the winter months.
Local officials say that closing the facility for five months from October until next April will effectively wipe out all of the hard work which has been undertaken in recent years to promote the municipality as a quality destination for athletes and sports enthusiasts.
“Closing the Olympic size swimming pool will have a negative affect on tourism, as during the winter months there is a huge amount of interest from local and international athletes who wish to combine training programmes with their holidays,” said Mayor of Geroskipou, Michalis Pavlides.
“We simply don’t have the cash to support it through the winter.”
Themis Filippides, the chairman of the Paphos branch of the hotelier’s association – PASYXE – expressed regret, saying closing the pool would cause “irreparable damage to athletic and swimming tourism and training”.
“After many attempts in recent years to develop sports tourism in Paphos by offering attractive packages and services for this alternative form of tourism, we were seeing satisfactory results,” he said.
“This move will override all of this hard work and we have lost a very good opportunity for the winter season.”
The mayor says that it costs around 35,000-45,000 euros a month for the fuel to supply the generator which is used to heat the pool during the winter months. On top of this amount are the added costs of staff wages and chemicals, as well as maintenance costs.
“The total bill for operating the pool in the winter is around 50,000 euros a month,” he said.
Pavlides noted that the government had previously subsidised Yeroskipou municipality to help them to operate the facility in the winter, but funds had now stopped.
“They have given this money to Paphos municipality instead,” he said.
Last year, the municipality joined forcers with local hoteliers to try and secure an injection of cash, again without any luck.
“We appealed to the CTO to give us money – pointing out that numerous teams of Cypriot athletes staying in Paphos (to use the facility) in the winter totaled more than 6,000 overnight stays in local hotels. The hoteliers supported these facts with letters and documents, we also approached EVE (the chamber of commerce) for help, but nobody will help us,” he said.
In the summer month water in the swimming pool is heated naturally by the sun and operating costs of the facility are only around 7,000-8,000 euros a month.
The mayor said that the municipality is not in a strong enough economic position to support the facility on its own. “It’s impossible,” he stressed.
Pavlides has now requested a meeting with the new government in the hope they will change their minds and re-instate the subsidy.
The Olympic standard swimming pool, complete with ten lanes opened in 2006. All types of water sports are regularly hosted at the facility, which also houses locker rooms, a physiotherapy centre and recreational rooms. Lighting has also been installed for night practice.
The mayor, who has been in office for almost two years, said that some works were previously carried out to make the facility more energy saving, but added that this had cost a lot of money and so was left unfinished. The costs are now double the previous operating costs, he said.
“Money was spent, but work wasn’t done in the proper way. We should harness the sun to give us power,” he said. “Even countries such as Sweden and Norway do this, and yet in Cyprus, where we have sun almost every day, no-one uses it. I would like to do this at some point, but it costs money which we don’t have.”
As it stands, the swimming pool will be closed from October through to March 2014.It will re-open in April.