By Bejay Browne
Kissonerga has welcomed the recent suggestion by President Nicos Anastasiades that the long-proposed new marina at nearby Potima bay could include a docking facility for cruise ships.
The Paphos village community leader described it as a logical suggestion that would massively boost tourism in the area.
“We welcome the president’s idea to combine the new marina and a dock for the cruise ships in one area. This will be good for us and for Paphos as a whole. It’s a good sign that he wants to do this and a new tender process will get underway soon,” community leader George Stylianou told the Sunday Mail.
Last week, President Nicos Anastasiades suggested including a pier large enough to accommodate cruise ships in the Paphos marina project near Kissonerga to ensure it was built as soon as possible.
It would also put pay to a spat between Paphos Paphos, Phedonas Phedonos and the Cyprus National Commission for Unesco. He vowed to plough ahead with plans to construct a new jetty close to the castle at Paphos harbour that would allow cruise ships to dock there. But the local Unesco office insists a heritage impact study should be undertaken first to prevent irreversible destruction to the Unesco world heritage site that covers much of this part of Paphos including the harbour.
“Instead of starting a row with the antiquities department, or whether it should be done at the small harbour, if we want to get the project done soon let it be included in the marina if that is possible,” Anastasiades said. “It will be a way of completing it as soon as possible.”
The president said that was something local authorities must discuss and decide along with the ministry of tourism.
Stylianou said this project would mean that the entire area from Kissonerga and up to Coral Bay would be developed.
“It will good for tourists and it’s important to offer tourism for cruise ship passengers. We hope that it will actually happen this time and eventually be built and that it doesn’t turn out to be just another announcement.”
At issue however is the long and tortuous path plans for the Paphos marina have taken so far with three different consortiums battling it out in the courts for more than a decade as tenders were accepted, rejected and appealed but ultimately came to nothing.
The ground work for announcing a new tender is currently underway by the government.
There has been so much ‘to-ing and fro-ing’ in recent years, Stylianou said that the community will only believe it when contracts are signed and the project gets underway.
“They have been fighting like roosters and tit for tat, it has been very frustrating for everyone. I build, no, you build, I sue, you sue and on and on, and the end result is that Paphos is left without this much needed facility.”
But once completed, the lucrative marina will provide a much-needed boost in investment and tourism for the area, he said.
For many years, developers, construction companies and businesses have been relying on the fact that a marina will be built in this space and having cruise ships added will bring another, higher level of investment, Stylianou noted.
“It will mean a good opportunity for long term business propositions and offer many more services than the ones we already have in the area now.”
Developers have been selling properties in the area on the back of the new marina and yet still there is just an empty space.
“I believe that the tender process for quotations will start before the end of the year, and according to the previous plans, from the date of the contract signing, it will take three years, unless anything unforeseen crops up.”
Stylianou believes that by 2024 Kissonerga will have its marina. “I don’t think that I will be the mukhtar then, but you never know.”
This is the second term for Stylianou, and it is proving easier than the first, as the huge inherited debt of close to four million euros, and other financial obligations were a massive challenge.
“When I was elected, we (Kissonerga) owed 3.91 million euros. By the end of 2018, we had managed to reduce that debt to two million euros.”
By the end of 2019, that will have decreased even further, down to I.85 million euros and by the end of Stylianou’s term, the debt will be cleared.
“When my term is completed, I hope to have cleared all of the debts, that is my aim,” he said.
This is being achieved by being frugal and saying ‘no’ to financing many projects and programmes, alongside increasing income and decreasing expenses, he said.
“This is the way to do it and we are proceeding with projects according to the finances we have. And if you can’t increase your income, then you must decrease your expenses,” he said.
Some of the community board’s income comes from the local authorities rental of beach beds and umbrellas.
“This is our biggest single source of income and is around 90,000 euros a year,” he said.
The community board also earns a substantial income from hotel tax.
“We have around 2,000 houses in Kissonerga and six large hotels, one is also being renovated now by tour operator TUI,” he said.
However, although Kissonerga is juggling finances, they are still planning to complete a three-kilometre stretch of the coastal pathway. The project is due to start this coming autumn as the tender process is currently underway.
“It will cost around 300,000 euros and be of a huge benefit to the area for both locals and visitors.”
The pedestrian path has been planned for the last 11 years and will be constructed from a combination of materials including stone and concrete.
It will run between Potima bay – the site of the highly anticipated Paphos marina – and the Atlantic hotel.
They are also creating a futsal facility in the centre of the village.
However, he noted that his residents are far more vocal with complaints rather than praise.
“I wish people in Kissonerga would be happier and show it. Other villages praise us and our efforts and say ‘good job Kissonerga’.”