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Plan needed for Laiki Yitonia to regain lost glitz

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Legislators on Tuesday called on authorities to waste no more time in revamping Laiki Yitonia, the tourist quarter of the capital, lamenting its ongoing decay.

The area, off Ledra and Onasagorou streets – was revitalised in the 1990s and filled with restaurants, cafés and souvenir shops – has deteriorated over recent years and sees far fewer visitors.

MPs were briefed on a study funded by the ministries of interior and of tourism, as well as Nicosia municipality, aimed at developing the area.

Certain beautification works have begun, but this was nowhere near enough, said Marinos Mousiouttas of the Democratic Forces Cooperation party.

He called for a master plan to be drawn up between the relevant authorities and the tenants of shops, so that “this neighborhood can regain its lost glitz, alongside major projects like Eleftheria Square, Makarios Ave, Stasikratous, on which a great deal of money was spent.”

Because of the neglect, currently just three tenants remain in Laiki Yitonia – down from 28 in the past.

One idea for bringing life back to the quarter would see artisans and artists setting up shop there.

Ruling Disy MP Michalis Sofocleous said the centre of Nicosia needs revamping to attract locals and tourists alike.

However, he added, the decay in Laiki Yitonia also presents an opportunity to start from scratch and impart a traditional Cypriot character to the town centre.

Sofocleous said the shops in Laiki Yitonia are co-owned by the interior ministry and Nicosia municipality.

Beyond the various minor revamp moves, the quarter also needs adequate policing, parking, lighting and project maintenance.

Akel’s Costa Costa blamed the municipality for the current “depressing state of affairs” in Laiki Yitonia.

The area looks derelict, and this is not an image for what should otherwise be a landmark for the capital.

Costa said a tenants’ management committee has submitted specific proposals to the junior minister for tourism.

For his part, Edek MP Costis Efstathiou noted that those still hanging on in the quarter need financial support.

“The channeling of tourists and visitors to Nicosia toward the north must stop. Instead of the north, we need at last to support Laiki Yitonia.”

Yiannis Ioannidis of the Laiki Yitonia tenants association recalled that the discussion in parliament dates back four years.

“We ask for incentives regarding the rent and other municipal taxes until such time as the project is finished and delivered. The information desk of the junior ministry for tourism must remain in place, and there needs to be a coordinated action between the junior ministry for tourism, Nicosia municipality and other ministries.”

Ioannidis said that depending on the square metres, the rent for premises in Laiki Yitonia goes anywhere from €500 to €800.

These were not viable rates, he said.

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