Article
Property

Cyprus Property: Is our tourism in danger?

19 October, 2017 | Posted By: Antonis Loizou

By Antonis Loizou F.R.I.C.S. – Antonis Loizou & Associates Ltd – Real Estate Valuers & Estate Agents.

 

 

It will never cease to amaze me the indifference of associations, professional bodies, government and others, regarding crucial aspects of the construction sector.


I write regularly on a weekly basis on various subjects including the above, make a point to inform the Minister of Interior at the time and apply to the various professional bodies for support. Out of these efforts, the response and results are limited, as they lend us an ear, from time to time.

Recently, the Hoteliers Association raised two major issues.

 

Certificate of Final Approval

 

 

Most of the hotels (may be as much as 90%) do not have this certificate (CFA) and this is due to the constant changes and alterations that take place in a hotel.  Minor or not, the time that it takes to get such altered permits is so long (not only for hoteliers) that the applicants at the end do not bother. The lack of the CFA  is that “no building can be occupied unless the CFA is secured”.

We have warned the last three ministers on the subject, warning them of the dangers and add that even if we, as Cyprus, do not pay much attention, the foreign investors and especially tour operators will not play along.

For the last four years I have argued that the occupation should not be related to the CFA, but with a “certificate of safety” issued by the project architect.  Recently, tour operators have raised this question and claim that their own insurance companies will not cover their clients if there is no CFA.

The argument is valid and one wonders if other insurance policies, such as third party insurance, etc., are valid for a claim.

The disaster of this wrong measure is that any interested party can claim that Hotel “X” has no CFA and it is occupied, as a result of which the courts have no alternative other than issue a demolition order.

What is shocking is that the Hotel Association has just woken up on the subject and I hope that it is not too late.  For those who might not agree with this idea of a safety certificate (which is to be issued by the architect) let’s adopt this until some other ideas are found.  The safety certificate will relate to the structural stability of the building, the electrical and mechanical installation and the fire regulations.

Just imagine if one of our rival destinations from abroad (or locally, say, the Turkish Cypriot side) report this to the tour operators, we will not have a leg to stand on.

 

Villas to let

 

 

On another note, and also for the past four years, I have been warning about the unfair competition that villas to let enjoy against the hotels and (the few) licensed establishments. I must have written to several Ministers, the Hotel Association, Cyprus Tourism Organisation officers, explaining to them that the villas-to-let concept is an illegal practice, whereby the let must be more than 30 days per tenant based on the prevailing laws and the income is not declared, thus the government losing millions in taxes.

I have provided a comprehensive proposal of how this could work, with the agents/ owners/ local authorities getting involved.  This is a serious problem since recent reports suggest that approximately 300,000 foreign visitors do not stay in hotels, hotel apartments and the handful of licensed villas. Unfortunately, this has taken such a long time for those in control to wake up.  Again the hotel association has only now just woken up.

Those who are in charge must bear some sort of responsibility for subjects which they should know and do nothing about it and it is with surprise that I heard the Chairman of some sort of association from Paphos claiming that Paphos has a problem with the villa-to-let competition. No, really?

Villas-to-let is a much cheaper option than the cost of staying at a hotel, with all its pluses and minuses.  I do not suggest that this alternative form of tourism should shut down (it would negative side effects for investors), but it should be regulated, maintaining a fair competition and encourage further tourism development, which we need and is presently exceeding demand.  If need be, I will repeat my analytical idea on how this villa-to-et could work.

The whole situation on these two subjects reminds me of the Oscar winning film “Good morning Vietnam” which woke up the US public when they realised that many marines were being killed.

 

www.aloizou.com.cy