The local authorities of Ayia Napa, Liopetri and Sotira on Monday said their merger as part of local government reform would be an advantage in many fields including tourism, agriculture and education.

The three local authorities said their proposed merger “satisfies all the requirements of the studies and criteria of both the Union of Municipalities and the interior ministry regarding the local government reform.”

The government’s plan envisages slashing the number of municipalities from 30 currently to 17, creating municipal clusters with enhanced jurisdictions and devolving power away from central government.

Many municipalities and communities reacted to the proposed mergers, with richer ones refusing to have the same representation as those with fewer resources, others citing fears they will be marginalised, and some questioning the studies on the matter.

According to the government suggestion back in 2019, Ayia Napa is to merge with Protaras, Paralimni, Dherynia and Sotira. The coastal resort said it would rather merge with Sotira and Liopetri, a motion backed by the other two.

In a new statement on Monday, the three local authorities said their merger would boost the Ayia Napa brand name which for more than 40 years has been contributing to the country’s economy and has put Cyprus on the map.

This merger, they said, “will create excellent growth prospects, especially in tourism, as the merged entities have a single coastal front, which, with the appropriate infrastructure and investment from the private sector can be developed and further contribute to the upgrading of the tourism product.”

They also said this development will bring additional significant and economic benefits to the merging entities. Their merger, they added, would also further strengthen the sectors of tourism, agriculture, education and culture.

The statement said that the three local authorities’ merger would help diversify the tourism product, upgrade customer experience and attract higher-income visitors.

“The agricultural sector is also expected to develop through innovative farming methods, such as hydroponics and vertical farming,” they added.

The area also aspires to become an education hub and a cultural centre with the three authorities referring to the establishment of a university and cultural infrastructure.