By Evie Andreou
ALMOST half of Paphos’ restaurants, bars and clubs have had to close down in the last four years, the chairman of the association which represents them said yesterday, and many others were on the brink, Fytos Thrasyvoulou said.
Thrasyvoulou who heads the association, SYKAP, said that all-inclusive hotel packages and the advent of international chain restaurants were part of the problem.
He said that only 380 establishments operate in Paphos today, compared to 710 four years ago. The downward spiral began in 2009 he said.
Thrasyvoulou also blamed the euro, saying that since it was adopted, it had brought with it problems with the British pound sterling.
“Paphos recreation centres continue to be at a critical point when it comes to the continuation of their operation,” Thrasyvoulou said. Unless something was done, the remainder of those still in business would also be forced to close, he said.
“One after another, recreation centres are closing down because of the lack of cash flow,” he added.
He said that due to all-inclusive packages, even in areas with 6,000 or 7,000 hotel beds, local restaurants were not being filled to capacity. This was also due to international chains which have lower operating costs and thus lower prices, he added.
Themis Philippides, chairman of the Paphos branch of the Cyprus Hotels Association said that ‘all inclusive’ packages were a necessary evil and that hotel owners had no choice, being under pressure from European travel agents to provide that type of holiday.
He said that even though there was an increase in tourism this year, they did not see the expected results. Signs for the coming months were not encouraging either, he said.
Paphos municipal market shop owners are also complaining over the low number of visitors and clients. Shop owners believe the root of the problem is the existence of malls and large department stores, in addition to the economic climate.
The collapse of a Russian tour operator earlier this month, was also a big problem for small business owners, who said they had been counting on Russian tourists.
Owners say that despite the fact that the municipal market was picturesque and had plenty of shops and restaurants, business was very slow and visitors few.