The annual one million visits to the Akamas peninsula mentioned on Tuesday refer only to visits made by Cypriots and the number does not include tourists from abroad, Agriculture Minister Costas Kadis clarified on Wednesday.
Speaking on state radio, he said most of Cypriots get there by car while others, mainly tourists, arrive by boat.
“In any case, what the study has shown is that people highly value Akamas for its sites, for its natural environment and for its authenticity and natural beauty. People want to leave Akamas largely in its present form, with improving some things,” he said.
The area needs more cleanliness, better roads, and some key support infrastructures, Kadis explained.
The government is now implementing the plans, having presented the results of the architectural competition for the elementary infrastructures that will be created to serve and better manage the visitors arriving at the park, “the 14 service centres that we will not turn into hotels or restaurants, or anything else.”
What they will be are small constructions to serve the visitors and fully blend into the environment, the minister said.
“The shapes and materials used will be closely linked to the characteristics of the area and the services they provide are sanitary facilities. Consider that a million people visit Akamas today and there is not even a toilet to serve them, ” he added.
The service hubs will also provide information on the wealth of the area, places for a visitor to have a drink, benches as well as locally sourced local produce and a bicycle station where people can leave their bikes, or rent one.
The road network will certainly be improved, Kadis went on to say, as the way it is now is neither comfortable nor safe and creates a huge burden on the environment.
“If you go to Akamas in the summer, you will see that the habitat is completely deteriorated by the dust from the wheeled vehicles, within a 100-metre radius.”
At the same time, the environmental impact assessment of all the infrastructure and functions of the park is ongoing to ensure that the park will operate in an environmentally friendly manner and there will be no negative impacts.
Construction plans are being completed so work can start in 2021.
An effort is being made to increase cleanliness in the meantime, but the park is everbody’s responsibility and if people continue to throw away things the problems will persist, the minister stressed.
The issue of boats is also being addressed, with seal bays being protected. Legislation will prohibit the passage of vessels at specific points.
Decrees allowing specific activities in specific areas will be issued before the start of the new tourist season, within the next two months.