LEISURE: Innovative ideas for Cyprus tourism

08 September, 2018 | Posted By: Antonis Loizou

During a time when the Cypriot dams were overflowing, we paid a visit to several of them to enjoy God’s Blessing and the most pleasant natural environment.

We visited Yermasoyia dam (in Limassol) and we noted that there were several canoe-rowing boat club members using the dam for exercise. 

As an ex-competition rower in the U.K. (Talk in Turn – Carlisle) we paid particular attention to this sport and had a chat with the participants, only to be informed that there are no facilities to lower the canoes/rowing boats from the car trailer to the dam, no parking, no toilets and even dangerous steps to go down. 

We communicated with the Ministry of Agriculture to find out what its policy is all about, to be informed that it cannot take responsibility for the people’s safety using the dam and this notwithstanding the fact that the club undertakes upon itself not only to finance part of the facilities, but to undertake a personal responsibility to its members. 

We wonder, when someone is sailing or bathing in the sea and drowns, does the Government have any responsibility?  Of course not. 

So, in our opinion dams should be allowed to be used but in an organized manner either by private clubs and/or give the sport/facilities administration to private firms on a B.O.T. basis. 

A small kiosk and minimum entrance/use fee should cover some of the cost, whereas KOA (the Sport Association of Cyprus) could help out.  The only dam that we noted some sort of sport action is that of Polemidhia (with a “license” we are informed) and the new Polemidhia Mayor insists that based on the dam and its surrounding area it can turn the village into a sporting community attracting “towns” people and tourists.  What a lovely idea – Water availability apart.

In the Paralimni-Protaras area, 5 years ago, a beach volley arena was prepared, which hosted international games for 15 days. 

Lovely, with all facilities provided including cafeteria, changing rooms, floodlights, parking, showers etc.  Since then, it has been abandoned by the government and we blame also the Municipality of Paralimni for not making a fuss about it and undertaking the cost of doing it up – the wealthiest Municipality in Cyprus.

In the same area, a private group attempted to have a small sailing boat base (with a Cypriot being a gold medallist at the last Olympic games) but this ran into bureaucracy problems and it was abandoned.

So, we have on the one hand the government policy to turn Cyprus into a “sports arena” with year-round activity, a rather short tourist season and on the other hand we do nothing about it, since political decisions are not followed up.

Bearing in mind that sport events produce an income benefiting the Cyprus economy, this is especially important (the Cyprus Rally brings in around €2 mln from foreign participants alone) plus it extends the tourist season as well as the occupancy of tourist establishments.

Government and local authority indecision have its side effects.  Agricultural fields are turned into motorbike racing tracks, highways are also used for racing competitions by young people (55% of the motor accidents are due to this) and cycling lanes are nowhere to be found (Larnaca and Limassol Salt Lake perimeters are ideal locations). 

The Shacolas Group (the Doer) has suggested to the government to let them build an airport hotel and in exchange of build an international race track around Larnaca airport – Did they get any reply? – No.

We are still awaiting the location of the airfield for model airplanes, the motocross circuits, rock climbing sites etc.

In addition, remote control motor boat enthusiasts could use the Achna dam, as well as others (see Nicosia Lymbia dam and Xyliatos), whereas the Ladies Mile area could be also be used for model airplanes.

It appears to us that Limassol is the only town which has a vision (and sponsors) and will to carry out this job as a pilot scheme. 

For this reason, we suggest that Municipalities/Local Authorities which are around Limassol could join the Limassol Municipality and its wealthy foreign residents, local residents and hotels, in order to explore together such sporting ideas. 

The old Moni open cast mine is a most suitable location for motorbike racing, Souni-Zanadjia area for dirt track motor racing, Polemidhia, Asprokremmos and Kourris dam for sailing/racing/ canoeing/water ski/rowing etc, Pissouri area for windsurfing and paragliding, mountain sites for climbing (even the manmade ones – see S.B.As), whereas the British bases could help out in non-professional sporting events such as horse and donkey racing (the S.B.A. is always helpful).

If there is an event every week, bearing in mind the short distances of Cyprus, there will be something for everybody to do or watch. Hotels could link up with such organizers and promote as such through the CTO ads. 

People want something to do at all ages and at all times and these sort of facilities could enhance the quality of life, reduce crime and improve the Cyprus real estate market (see Spain fairs).  

Wine and dine is of course the major attraction, but we must exploit the good weather all the year round as an added attraction, which will help the local real estate market.