By Hermes Solomon
Kalymnos Camping Site (KCS) near Governor’s Beach, Limassol has been mismanaged from its inception.
Twenty five years ago, the Cyprus Tourist Organisation (CTO) invested millions of pounds to create the finest caravan/trailer/camping site in Cyprus, passing control for the site over to Pentakomo village council two years ago. Pentakomo then renegotiated a management lease with the former franchisee – an entrepreneur/restaurateur.
The site produces an annual rental income in excess of 380,000 euros. Electricity is charged to the 360 tenants at 20 per cent above domestic rate to cover site lighting, which is repeatedly vandalised and rarely lit. Water consumption, council rates and site maintenance are at the cost of the franchisee.
I purchased a forty foot trailer with all mod cons seven years ago. The annual site rent was £600 (1075 euros) and I was issued with a site ‘rule book’ which stated that:
1. For any information contact the camping management office (manned for eight hours daily, six days a week).
2. It is obligatory for all persons spending a night at the KCS to complete arrival/departure forms – never enforced as far as I know.
3. The management has the right to demand the removal of any tent or caravan/trailer if those tenants have not observed the regulations, or after 15 days if the operational needs of KCS so demand. (Packed-in tight forty foot canopied trailers are immovable once sited).
4. The hours to observe public peace are from midnight to 7 a.m. and from 2 p.m. until 4.30 p.m. (Few tenants observe this rule).
5. Tenants are obliged to repair damage caused. (KCS was decimated by the Mari Disaster – Vasiliko power station is next door).
6. The proper consumption of water is imperative. (Tenants water their drives, terraces, gardens and wash their cars or boats with impunity since the CTO ‘forgot’ to meter individual plot water supplies)
7. It is prohibited to erect permanent or semi-permanent constructions. (Most tenants have ignored this directive due to a total lack of site inspection by the management).
8. It is prohibited to barbecue food outside proscribed barbecue areas. (We all barbecue outside our front doors).
9. To bring or leave domestic animals at KCS. (There are more than fifty dogs and as many roaming cats).
10. To park any car inside the campers’ area. (Tenants and visitors park wherever and however they choose).
11. To put boats and ‘foreign objects’ – meaning ‘heaps’ – inside the camping spaces. (Boats block communal roads every weekend and ‘heaps’ abound!)
12. The entry of visitors’ vehicles is prohibited unless permission is granted. (Permission from whom when the main entry management office is unmanned?)
13. The planting of trees or shrubs (who hasn’t?) since there is a special service for the maintenance of ‘green spaces’ (whereon the management/CTO have permitted the ‘illegal’ erection of wooden shacks/holiday homes to maximise rental income).
For your own pleasant and enjoyable stay:
14. Do not make noise and respect the peace of others, especially during the hours of public peace. (Visible enforcement of this rule is non-existent).
15. Keep ‘green spaces’ clean. (How, when there aren’t small waste bins dotted around ‘green spaces’?).
16. Place garbage into plastic bags and use council waste containers (which overflow every weekend to the delight of roaming cats and rats).
17. Use the various ablution blocks with care and do not cause damage or throw foreign objects inside toilet bowls, etc. (The facilities are filthy and mains sewage pipes often blocked and smelly).
18. The water used to irrigate ‘green spaces’ – filtered waste water running through a black hose above ground network – is not drinkable. (This water is now used to irrigate an immense new lawn and over 100 palm trees planted recently around the Kalymnos Restaurant. Other ‘green spaces’ will soon become ‘desert spaces’).
19. Observe traffic signs and facilitate movement of traffic. (No entry signs are ignored and the speed limit of 15kph also).
20. Do not hoot or use motorcycles during public peace hours. (Quads and motorbikes are permitted to race around the site anytime unopposed).
21. Pay the agreed rent promptly each year – surcharged at nine per cent for late payers. (Rents were recently increased by an average of 11 per cent and just under half of tenants are three months or more in arrears, two of whom approached the minister of the interior to complain about the increase. They were fobbed off by an underling who allegedly showed them KCS file, whereupon they noted that the franchisee paid only 18,000 euros annually to Pentakomo council for the management lease). On confronting the franchisee I was told he pays 160,000 euros annually for the lease and not to believe ‘unsubstantiated’ gossip.
22. All tenants must provide insurance cover for their abodes – fire, theft and public liability – contracts will be nullified by failing to do so. (Management has yet to check if any tenants’ abodes are insured).
23. The use of noisy machinery is strictly prohibited at weekends (but not servicing outboard motors, car, quad and bike engines or using grass strimmers, chain saws, electric drills, grinders, hammers and cement mixers, etc.).
There is now a two euro entry charge to visitors to stop tenants inviting ‘half the island ‘ to all-night barbecues to the inconvenience of other tenants. But visitors gain access to the site through breaks in the fenced-off perimeter or by ‘hosts’ opening the entrance barrier when the office is unmanned.
Tenants abuse site facilities due to inadequate site supervision or visible enforcement of rules. The management seems afraid of repercussions when confronting certain ‘lawless’ tenants, who have threatened to set alight management cars and the Kalymnos restaurant, which has developed over the years into a ‘dream’ location for weddings and other functions – deafening bands keeping KCS tenants awake until one in the morning most summer weekends.
If management persistently fail to observe their contractual obligations it’s not surprising that tenants do likewise.
What started out as a ‘superb’ campsite has deteriorated into a ‘nightmare’ for the present franchisee, who is constantly at odds with the CTO – not to mention many ‘lawless’ tenants – at the cost of rule-abiding tenants.
The KCS debacle mirrors what is wrong with both the Cyprus tourist and construction industries – mismanagement, lack of proper supervision, overdevelopment, underinvestment and profiteering at the expense of today’s tenants/owners, who are a mostly crisis-ridden, captive audience unable to sell and move on, trailers having more than halved in value in line with the domestic housing market.
If KCS had started out how it meant, through its rulebook, to go on then the site would not now be threatened with closure.
Enforcing laws, rules and regulations is not KCS’ strong point, nor this government’s or that of any previous administration.
Without order and discipline the eventual outcome is chaos. But then Cyprus is a young profligate republic and, through penury, is only now being dragged screaming into EU line.