Two beaches will be opened for the summer season in the fenced-off city of Varosha, its ‘mayor’ Ismail Arter said on Wednesday.

Speaking to Turkish news agency Anadolu, Arter said that one of the two beaches, which is 500-metres long and located in front of the former Greek school, is nearly ready to welcome visitors after around 250 umbrellas, sunbeds and a small kiosk selling refreshments were installed.

“The pandemic obviously affected the number of visitors in Varosha since its reopening last October, but not the redevelopment works in town,” Arter said.

“Since the reopening, over 14,000 people visited Varosha, including 2,000 people during the weekend after the reopening of the crossings on June 4, many of which were Greek Cypriots.”

Arter said he hoped that the opening of Varosha would create a positive impact on the negotiation process and contribute to a potential agreement between the two sides.

He added that the opening of the fenced-off town was made possible thanks to a political decision taken by the Turkish Cypriot ‘government’ and that the Famagusta municipality in the north is heavily involved in the redevelopment works taking place in Varosha.

“We are cleaning and upgrading many public areas in town, including the important religious area of Bilal Agha Mezjit, which will be opened to the public once the restoration is completed,” he said.

“The support from Turkey, especially at the beginning of the Varosha reopening, was invaluable, as they have sent people over to help with the technical works, particularly from Konya, a town that is twinned with Famagusta.”

Arter did not specify when and where the second beach in Varosha will be opened but, according to Anadolu, it will run from the Constantia Hotel to the King George Hotel.

Meanwhile, Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar, said on Wednesday he hopes that the reopening of Varosha will contribute to the return of tourists to the town.

“Varosha was a very important destination for tourists in the past, with its own history and culture. We hope to see it return to its old glory days,” he said.

“The reopening has boosted the morale of Turkish Cypriots. We are in the middle of an important process for everyone.”