Cyprus Editorial: Larnaca undecided if it wants growth

16 July, 2014 | Posted By: Financial Mirror

Larnacans face a dilemma – do they want real growth that will transform the town from a backwater airport host to a bustling business centre, or are they content with the slow pace of events where a mass wedding of tourists seemed like the cultural highlight of the year?
It makes one wonder why the locals would beat the war drums and rally public support for a protest on Wednesday to oppose the development of their near-deserted port at a time when the island has dried up on new projects and people and businesses are desperate for work. Plans that will determine the fate of the port are still on the drawing board, which begs the questions, “how do the protest organisers know what the designs will be” and “what’s in it (or not) for them”?
The fact that the ReAct campaign, initiated on facebook and allegedly supported by political parties and key personalities, had enough funds to print a leaflet in the thousands, suggests that there must be a sponsor. And if so, what are the vested interests?
Protests alone will change nothing. Instead of wasting money and causing (mild) havoc to week-day traffic, the campaign funds could have been better diverted to commissioning an alternative plan to present to the local mayor and to the chamber of commerce.
If there are fears that millions of tonnes of chemicals will be dumped in Aradhippou, surely there must be rules on how to handle toxic and nuclear waste. But if the whole campaign is an exaggeration of the minimal amounts of radioactive material linked to the oil and gas exploration companies that want to use parts of Larnaca port for their storage (as others already do), then maybe we are stretching our imagination a bit.
There’s no doubt that Larnaca desperately needs a mega-project. Until such time as an investor is found to re-start the marina leisure complex, perhaps the best would be to offer the port facilities to paying companies that would ultimately contribute to the town’s coffers.
But it also makes one wonder why all the fuss about such a substantial project, at a time when restaurant owners along Mackenzie beach are violating every rule in the book, gradually taking up more and more of the public areas, and the mayor and the Greens sit idly by, probably on the payroll of some of these operators.
Writer and philhellene Compton Mackenzie would turn in his grave if he knew that his name is now synonymous to the lowly and noisy strip.
Did anyone say “quality tourism”?