The architectural competition for an amphitheatre in Ayia Napa was announced recently by the municipality which has lofty ambitions for the coastal resort. Citing the success of its three festivals (Annual, Mediaeval, Youth) and the need to attract international cultural events, the construction of an amphitheatre was a necessity as it was also a pre-requisite for the attracting of cultural tourism, the municipality said. A modern, fully equipped venue for hosting events was an imperative.
Ayia Napa is one of Cyprus’ wealthiest municipalities and can afford to spend €3.8 million on a vanity project such as an amphitheatre, but the municipal council is deluding itself if it genuinely believes that all it takes to attract cultural tourism is a newly-built, well-equipped venue, which will offer a “panoramic view.” Placing a modern amphitheatre in Ayia Napa will not attract cultural tourism, because the reality is that the resort has nothing cultural to offer. There is no art scene, music scene, architecture, antiquities in what is essentially a cultural desert.
This is not meant as criticism of Ayia Napa, but a reminder that this is a party resort primarily for the fun-loving young. What cultural tourism would be attracted to a place that boasts deafening music until the early hours of the morning, is packed with bars, neon-lit clubs, fast food joints and streets which are the preserve of drunken youths? Would the construction of an amphitheatre, miraculously, change all this and give the resort an upmarket, cultural profile?
Of course not. The municipal council should be happy with what the resort is – a busy, noisy, anarchic, fun factory for 24-hour party people – and should not try to change what has proved a very successful formula. Until the late seventies, Ayia Napa was a tiny, sleepy village with a charming fishing harbour that not even Cypriots had heard of and now it is known all over Europe as a party resort; at one point it even spawned the Napa sound which was played in clubs abroad. Why change a successful brand that has been a cash cow for years?
We can only attribute the municipal council’s plans to delusions of grandeur. Mayor Yiannis Karousos illustrated the point, saying that the amphitheatre would be another reference point for culture and would be the basis for Ayia Napa’s claim for the title of Cultural Capital of Europe in 2030. It is hard to believe that he was actually being serious and really thought that the construction of an amphitheatre will bring culture to a resort that has none.