The Covid pandemic has had various negative economic, social and health effects, but it has led to locals getting to know Cyprus’ rural areas, especially the mountain areas and those at some distance from urban centres, as travel abroad has been limited
Last summer we saw an unprecedented demand for Troodos hotels and other real estate in the region. For the first time after many years of stagnation we have new investments in hotels and numerous daily visitors, be it only for lunch.
The countryside has so much to offer. The Lefkara region has stunning pine forests and very good quality restaurants offering all sorts of local dishes. The Skarinou donkey farm is a wonderful family experience.
As one moves further up, the previously sleepy restaurants and cafes now require a reservation to be seated, especially at the weekends.
Many lesser used dirt roads are worth exploring on a motorbike to see the flora and fauna. Another worthy experience is taking the route between Polis and Kykko monastery, with a stop at the mouflon conservatory and then on to the cedar valley.
Driving from Peyia village to Aphrodite’s baths through Akamas you can opt for overnight camping, but make sure that this is done in approved locations and definitely not in locations where is a nesting place for the turtles.
For those who want the experience of sea, coupled with mountain view, Akamas is the place. The villages here are also worth exploring and offering all kinds of accommodation
For out of the way routes ask the forestry department or the CTO, who can provide you with maps.
Regrettably there is no organised TV programme on a regular basis, to promote such locations and experiences, unlike Greece, where there are at least three weekly 1 hour programmes showing off the beauty of the places they visit. We spend so many millions on attracting foreign tourists, yet nothing to promote internal tourists, who now are the main visitors to rural locations.
As a result of the newfound interest in these areas, in terms of developing land and buying of hotels and holiday homes, prices have jumped.
Last year four hotels which had been up for sale for many years sold, including the Verengaria hotel. A Russian group has just bought 40 building plots in the Millomeri area planning all sorts of development. The Splendid hotel, which was falling apart, sold and a planning permit has been requested to convert the hotel into 38 super suites.
Local Authorities are desperate to improve their villages, having experienced the results of internal tourists and foreign investment. To this end the newly appointed mountain destination commissioner is there to help.
The technical chamber’s recent announcement to encourage development, as well as the relaxation on building regulations announced and the financial subsidies offered by the government to permanent residents, will all help to further development.
Get to know Cyprus dear readers and you will be surprised what you can discover in the distant countryside and off the asphalted roads.