BEACHES in Paphos have become an important source of income for the four municipalities in the Paphos district, which are raking in revenues from sunbed rentals and other seaside operations.
In Paphos, Peyia and Geroskiopou business is booming, while Polis municipality though at the bottom of the list in terms of income, is still doing well and say the revenues they do get are still important.
In Peyia, local councillor Linda Leblanc told the Sunday Mail that last couple of years saw record income from the beaches of around €1m.
“There was a record number of tourists visiting Cyprus so obviously this is reflected in the amounts,” she said, adding that expenses had to be deducted from the total.
The cash comes from the rental of beach beds and umbrellas and also from kiosks and beach bars. There are three main organised public beaches in Peyia, the most popular of which is the blue flagged Coral Bay, which attracts thousands of visitors every year.
Leblanc said that income from the beaches was vital to the municipality. “This will support the budget as the government is cutting back on what they are giving to the towns,” she said.
All beaches can be used for free in Cyprus, and municipalities can only charge for equipment.
Around 800 to 900 sunbeds are operated by Peyia municipality where 50 per cent of the beach must be left ‘open’ to the public where they may wish to bring their own beach paraphernalia.
“This income is far more than weddings bring in, although they are important too,” Leblanc said.
The local municipalities are also responsible for beach cleanliness and must also provide toilets, showers and changing areas.
Leblanc added that the recent income figures had served to underline how much ‘lost’ income the local authority has sustained for decades when services were operated by private individuals
Geroskipou has decided to keep the rental price of beds and umbrellas to a minimum at the beach areas outside the new beach ‘kiosks’, which were created by Psomas Studio of Architecture.
Mayor, Michalis Pavlides, told the Sunday Mail this was to encourage the public to use the new areas and to ensure that everyone was able to use the facilities.
“This is the first year that we have these new facilities and we are trying to bring people to enjoy their time at the beach, so we are only charging €2 for the beds (the normal price is €2.50. On Friday we had 40 holiday reps from Russia at the beach for an excursion to show them the facilities,” he said.
Next week, a similar excursion will be organised for holiday reps from a variety of other countries.
Each kiosk is around 220 square metres, and 80 square metres of each space consists of toilets, changing rooms and showers.
The first is at ‘Riccos’, with the second some 250, and the third, 300 metres further along the beach.
In the future, the municipality will add another two kiosks along the stretch, they have already rented the space from the government.
Pavlides explained that the beachfront in Gerokipou may be referred to by the public by the different areas such as, ‘Atlantida’,(which is rented out) Riccos’ and so on, but that it is actually one beach that is more than one kilometre long and is officially called ‘Aphrodite Beach.’ A new sign has just gone up to point it out.
“We have 100 beds at each position (the three kiosks), we didn’t want to put more as we wanted to leave space for the public.”
He said that as this was a popular beach, and he is aware of financial difficulties facing many of the local families, the municipality wanted to ensure everyone could enjoy the summer, relax and spend some quality time together. “This is not a beach to make the municipality rich, but for the public to be happy,” he said.
The rent from the three kiosks which recently went to tender will garner €180,000 for the municipality.
The municipality of Polis Chrysochous is the smallest and has six organised ‘points’ on their coastline in Polis and Latchi, according to mayor Giotis Papachristofi.
“All of them are rented out, it is better for the municipality like this, and is an important source of income for us,” he said.
The cheapest is rented for €7,000 and the most expensive for €27,000.
The total brings in €80,000 a year for the municipality. He said that not many people use the public beaches as they do in Paphos and that any real numbers are only seen during August and at weekends.
“La Plage is our busiest beach and thousands of people visit here each year.”
The head of the Paphos municipality beaches committee, Nicos Similides, said that the beach income for Paphos is hugely important. “It comes to around €1.7m a year,” he said.
This is made up of income from sunbeds and umbrellas and licences for water sports companies, The two beaches of Ta Bania and Sodap are operated by the municipality and bring in around €700,000 a year.
In addition, Venus beach, which has had work undertaken to make it safe from rip currents and high waves that have claimed the lives of many people over the years, is also an organised beach this year for the first time, although it is not yet eligible for a blue flag as water analyses and other criteria must be met first, he said.
The tender process was completed last week, and an operator is now in place running the beach, Similides said. “It will be €20,000 for this season,” he said.
He added that by the end of 2019, the municipality will have decided, as is required. If they will operate the public beaches or offer them for tender.