Ayia Napa Mayor Yiannos Karousos on Thursday accused the Water Sports Association of conspiring to make sure there was no competition in tenders for setting up operations on public beaches.
He was reacting to an announcement issued by the small shopkeepers union POVEK that said the mayor’s stance on the issue of water sports harmed “the smooth operation of tourism services.”
POVEK’s general secretary Stefanos Koursaris told the Cyprus Mail that the matter concerned three out of the 12 spots offering water sports in Ayia Napa.
Parliament knowingly approved regulations that required anyone bidding must have five years experience in the location in question, essentially stifling competition as no one new could apply.
Interior Minister himself Socrates Hasikos urged municipalities to ignore the regulations, which violated EU directives, and charged that the aim was to serve the interests of current water sports operators in certain areas.
Some municipalities, such as the one in Limassol, continued to follow parliament’s regulations but Karousos refused and the specifications in his municipality’s call for tender adhere to Hasikos’ proposal – three years experience from anywhere in the EU.
Out of the three contested spots in Ayia Napa only one was recently approved. Appeals have been filed at the Beaches Committee in relation with the other two.
Karousos said the new proposal is a source of much higher income to the municipality – citing one example that used to bring in €40,000 per year, which will now be a source of an estimated €300,000 per year.
Karousos’ statement on Wednesday said POVEK was not objectively informed on the real goings-on and went on to say the Water Sports association “asked it’s members not to bid for any other spot than they one they currently had. As a result of this understanding, in many municipalities across Cyprus –if not all – that invited tenders, there were no competitive bids as there was only one for every beach spot.”
“The Ayia Napa municipality is the only one that had competitive procedures in its water sports tender.”
He went on to say that POVEK was defending water sports professionals that didn’t even have a licence – something the union’s general secretary defended.
“We’ve had members that operated for 35 years with a licence. For the past two years because of what has been going on they haven’t been issued their licence – are you going to tell me now that these people don’t have a licence? These people that have worked for 35 years? For God’s sake.”
Following the mayor’s response, POVEK sent a letter asking him to meet and reach a solution for the good of the city and its tourists.