Tourist business owners in the Famagusta district staged a protest on Wednesday morning to complain about insufficient government support during the pandemic.
The protest was attended by various unions and associations that make up the district’s tourist industry, including small and medium business owners (Povek), Ayia Napa and Protaras shopkeepers, car rental operators and the Famagusta water sports association, as well as the local branch of the restaurant and entertainment businesses’ association (Pasika and Sika).
According to CNA, a convoy of about a hundred cars fitted with signs and black ribbons headed from Ayia Napa harbour down to 1 Apriliou Avenue in Paralimni, which they blocked for about an hour.
Protesters accused the government of leaving them “to their own devices” amid a pandemic.
Government aid has been insufficient, failing to meet the needs of businesses that rely heavily on the tourist season to survive, they said, adding that many businesses have been forced to close while others are struggling to stay open.
“Our fight concerns the entire district, since all families involved in the tourist industry have been affected by the pandemic,” Larnaca/Famagusta small shopkeepers union (Povek) head Nicos Stamatis said.
Everyone knows that Famagusta is the most heavily affected region in Cyprus, Famagusta entertainment businesses’ association spokesman Charalambos Alexandrou added, pointing out that many have been left without a monthly salary.
“Not only do we not get paid, but landlords are waiting to close us down as we cannot afford to pay our rents,” he said. “We are on the verge of getting evicted”.
Among business owners’ demands are a temporary rent suspension and ban on evictions for affected businesses, as well as substantial financial support that will reach those directly affected.
At the same time, they invited the competent ministers to visit the area to discuss the issues firsthand.
“The struggle of Ayia Napa and Protaras businesses, which started over a year ago, seems to have no end,” Povek representative Stefanos Koursaris said, calling on the state to acknowledge the urgency of the situation and contribute to the salvation and survival of the tourist industry.