By Bejay Browne
THE COST of constructing infrastructure at Paphos harbour to cater for cruise ships could cost around €7m, a study has found.
The findings of the study, carried out by a private company, Dion.Toumazis and Associates, were discussed at the House communications and works committee on Thursday.
Four possible locations were originally identified, and the company narrowed it down to one.
“Work there would include a new structure, a jetty of around 340 metres, which would allow for one ship to berth at a time,” Antonis Toumazis, who made the presentation, told the Sunday Mail
He said that the optimum area for the proposed structure is seawards, away from the castle.
Toumazis said that the infrastructure would include two different types of piled constructions, the first with vertical columns and a bridge on top, which would allow for passenger access and the second, a different type of piled structure, which would hold the berthed ships.
“I would estimate it taking around one year to complete, including the tender process,” he said.
High winds in the Paphos area prevent cruise liners from docking there. A jetty would allow the vessels to dock, boosting tourist traffic to the area and the island in general.
Andreas Demetriades, the head of the Paphos chamber of commerce, EVE, said that their aim is to construct a wharf which can handle large cruise ships and liners, and so tourists can disembark safely and easily.
Around three months ago, the Cyprus Ports Authority (CPA), at the request of EVE, the municipality of Paphos and other interested parties, recruited a consultant to prepare the feasibility study for the construction and operation of a wharf.
Demetriades said that the ministry of communications and works and the CPA consider the projected seven million euro price tag as “rather expensive and non-viable”.
However, supporters of the project, including EVE, disagree and say that the project is well worth the investment and would elevate Paphos’ tourist product and boost the local economy.
“We believe that the project is viable especially if we take into consideration the spending of the passengers in shops, restaurants and so on, and also the multiplier effect of such additional consumption.”
The chamber of commerce head said that passengers on a cruise ship expect to visit different destinations on their travels as part of the experience, and not just use the facilities on board.
He added that cruising has become a major part of the tourism industry all over the world.
“It accounts for US $29.4 billion with over 19 million passengers carried worldwide in 2011. The industry’s rapid growth has also seen an increasing number of newly built ships catering to European and North American clientele,” he said.
However, this is not the case in Cyprus, which has seen a sharp decrease in numbers in the last few years, according to the transport minister, who said he is addressing the issue.
“In 2014, some 140,000 passengers passed through the port in Limassol; three years ago, the number was at least double that.”
The minister said he recently met with representatives of major cruise liners to discuss the issue.
“We are making efforts in collaboration with Egypt and Israel, and I hope that this will bear fruit,” he said, attributing the falling traffic to political developments in the region.
The chamber of commerce head said that the construction of a jetty would increase both the number of short-stay visitors to Paphos and spending, which in turn would create jobs and boost the local economy.
Nasos Hadjigeorgiou, the head of the Paphos regional board of tourism said that the wharf would help to place Paphos on the cruise industry tourism map.
“It is a great opportunity for the Paphos region to become a popular port of call or entry in the cruise market and there will be direct impact in the cash-flow generated by cruise ship activity in Paphos: expenditure by passengers, crew and the ship operator on goods and services.”
He said that there are many other benefits including the creation of full time and part time jobs in a number of sub-sectors affected by cruise arrivals, such as retail and transport.
If given the green light, Demetriades admitted that the regular arrival of cruise ships and passengers would make the area around the castle and Kato Paphos considerably busier, but the correct location of the jetty would minimise such problems, he said.