By Bejay Browne
TWO major streets in the heart of Paphos’ old town have been designated pedestrian-only zones and sites for cultural events for a few hours each Saturday up to the end of December.
According to a Paphos municipality spokesman the idea behind the scheme is to help to breathe new life back into the area and create a ‘bazaar’ type ambience.
“Following a decision by the municipal council, Paphos obtained permission from the chief of police to convert the traditional centre of Paphos for pedestrians only with a variety of cultural events, entertainment programmes, traditional stalls, Christmas bazaars and activities for children,” he said.
Makarios Avenue and Evagoros Street in the old town will be closed to vehicles each Saturday until the end of December from 9am-2pm.
Saturday saw a number of events held, including a children’s fun day aiming to raise money for the Solidarity charity which is struggling to feed hundreds of needy families.
The spokesman said that as far as he was aware, this was the first time that such an initiative had been undertaken – on a regular basis – by the municipality.
The action has been welcomed by locals, tourists and shopkeepers alike who say that although the initiative is helping to bring customers to the area, more needs to be done.
One shop owner, who wished to remain unnamed, has owned an outlet in the area for more than 20 years said: “This move is to try and soften the impact of the blow we will all feel when the new Paphos Mall opens in a few weeks’ time. Things are already very difficult for shopkeepers in this area, we are suffering and the new Kings Mall will put many of us out of business.”
He added that he believed new taverns, traditional shops and artisans all needed to be encouraged to move into the area, to create the right ‘feel’.
“It shouldn’t all just be clothes shops and imported goods; we need to go back to our roots.”
According to Paphos municipality, there is a master plan to rejuvenate the entire old town centre, which is one of the projects being considered to be put forward for funding from the EU.
The spokesman said: “I believe more must be done to bring life back into this important area of Paphos, motivation must be there for the abandoned shops to be reopened, we are going in the right direction but it is not easy. It may be possible to obtain money through structural funds of the EU and the project would be a cooperation between the two as it’s impossible for the municipally to fund the ambitious plan on its own.”
The forthcoming events will include traditional food, art and music events, photo exhibitions and handicraft workshops.