THE government is prioritising the promotion of traditional produce, dishes and wines, Agriculture minister Nicos Kouyialis said at a tourism conference on Friday.
“With the shift to quality we can, as Cyprus, place our products on the gastronomic map of Europe,” Kouyialis said.
The ministry is aiming to spend almost €1.5m from 2014-2020 on an agricultural development programme to achieve these goals.
Kouyialis said that €500,000 will go to four projects to develop products including taro, rose preserves, loukoumia and organic products. Another €500,000 will support local markets and small business chains, while €400,000 will go to the development of new quality control systems for local products.
The production, and promotion of local products, Kouyialis said, does not only concern agriculture, but also the tourism sector.
He said gastronomy is an important part of Cypriot tradition that highlights the island’s 10,000 years of history and could boost its image.
“To that end, we ought, through concerted efforts, to bring out and exploit a range of our products, such as halloumi, various sausages, our potatoes, our olive oil, our wines – firstly commandaria wine – and so many other excellent products that are our valuable inheritance,” Kouyialis said.
He added that the government is also supporting winemakers in their effort to further increase the recognition of Cyprus wines and make the county a wine tourism destination.
The chairman of the Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO), Angelos Loizou, said that at the moment there is no presence or promotion of Cypriot products in the food chain of tourism, and limited use and visibility of the gastronomic wealth of Cyprus. He added that there are sometimes shortages of local products, especially during peak tourist periods.
He said the CTO’s goal is to achieve more dynamic promotion of traditional Cypriot nutrition and quality products.
The CTO’s Annita Demetriadou said that the gastronomy and local cuisine of every tourist destination are important aspects of its identity since these are integral parts of civilisation, tradition and culture.
“The food and drink chosen by the visitor during his stay are a very important part of his vacation experience,” she said.
Cypriot gastronomy, she added, can enrich Cyprus’s tourist product.
The CTO has already launched a number of initiatives to promote Cypriot gastronomy and satisfy the expectations of visitors seeking “a unique and quality experience in relation to wining and dining”. Among these initiatives is the “Cypriot breakfast” – already available in 32 hotels – where traditional ingredients are used in recipes.
Trained chefs are taught how to use traditional Cyprus products such as carob syrup, concentrated grape juice called episma, fresh goats’ milk and cheeses, fresh herbs and smoked meats and traditional preserved sweets. Restaurant staff are also trained to identify and explain these products to tourists.