By Evie Andreou
THE Larnaca district office has been clamping down on illegal caravan settlements along the district’s coast, but former Environment Commissioner Charalambos Theopemptou said having only three registered camp sites on the island is simply not enough to meet growing demand.
Reports this week said that even though crews from the district office had closed off the Meneou-Mackenzie beach to caravans, they relocate themselves to other areas, especially along the Larnaca-Dhekelia coastal road. This, they said, causes problems for the beach-going public.
“Caravans are only allowed to park in licensed camping sites and their presence anywhere else other than such places is considered illegal,” a Cyprus Tourism Organisation official told the Cyprus Mail.
Reportedly, caravan owners that are parked at the Larnaca beachfront have been notified by the police to leave and if they refuse to comply they will be reported and their caravans will be towed.
“According to the law on beaches, for a caravan to be parked at the beach, a licence must be obtained, but no such licenses are issued,” said Theopemptou. He said such ‘settlements’ hindered access to the beach and caused hygiene and other issues since there was no sewage system and waste water from the caravans might end up in the sea or the ground.
But as there are no registered camping sites in the Larnaca region, caravan holidaymakers complain that they have no alternative.
The three registered coastal camping sites on the island are located in Limassol and Paphos; Limassol hosts Kalymnos camping site in Governor’s beach in Pentakomo and in Paphos there is the Feggari camping site in Coral Bay and the Polis Chrysochous camping site.
Theopemptou said new sites need to be created because camping tourism had increased due to the financial crisis. Aside from that, he said existing campsites were not being properly run.
“There must be rules and rules are not applied,” said Theopemptou. He said the way camping sites usually operate in Cyprus was unacceptable and that the government must step up and introduce new legislation that will ensure that camping sites serve the purpose they are supposed to.
“Kalymnos camping in Governor’s beach is the most tragic example; people live permanently there, permanent structures have been erected… unacceptable,” he said.
The property is facing having its licence revoked by the CTO, which is examining whether it still fulfils the criteria of a camping site.
“You cannot erect a permanent structure at a camping site, everyone must evacuate the site once every month that is what usually happens to such places abroad,” Theopemptou said.
He also gave as an example the Troodos camping site, where authorities had to evict permanent squatters in 2012.
POLIS SEEKS INVESTORS
POLIS Mayor Angelos Georgiou responded to reports that the Polis campsite, the island’s most popular one among young people, would be seeking a strategic investor.
He told the Cyprus Mail the municipality was doing its best to secure funding for the long-awaited upgrade to the site, perhaps through the EU and was waiting for government help. If not, they might open the camp to strategic investors but no decision would be made until at least September, he said. He declined to give further details, although the possibility of a strategic investor was mentioned as far back as 2012.