EDITORIAL: Does anybody in Cyprus take tourism seriously?

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The latest tragedy in Paphos with a swimmer losing his life in dangerous waters shows, once again, the serious shortfalls in the island’s tourism infrastructure, which can only be blamed on the lack of coordination among public services.
The absence of the necessary signposting in areas known to have choppy waters throughout the year cannot be excused. The pale excuse by some local officials that red flags are hoisted in such dangerous areas, is also not justified.
The blame game gives its regular rounds with the mayor saying the problem lies in the absence of sufficient lifeguards, the police says beach patrols are out of the question, local councilors claim they are putting up warning signs all over the place, and so on. But no one seems to take the initiative to bundle all these issues together and try to resolve the various major or minor issues, each with its own significance for the wellbeing of the island’s biggest money earner.
Unless more funds are invested in enhancing the local services – beach control, checks on prices, keeping drunks off the streets, improving roads and public facilities – then we will continue to be dogged by these problems every year, with the occasional tragedy causing irreparable harm to the island’s reputation as a safe tourist resort.
It’s bad enough that Cyprus often outprices itself compared to other tourist destinations, the only thing left that makes it different for holidaymakers is the relative safety. Gone are the days when tourists used to flock here for good food, cheap wine, sun and sand. They can get these anywhere else they want.
What tourists now want is an extension of the quality of life they are aspiring to attain at home and this can only come through guaranteeing satisfaction to any vacationer, from the average “2+2” family, to the adventurous or the demanding tourist who would expect quality service for the money being paid.
Local administration should have even more control over matters that differ widely from town to town and from village to village. Municipal taxes should find a way of being reinvested better in local services, while town halls should abide by strict government regulation (to avoid corruption and jobs for relatives). Issues such as licensing of building permits should be resolved at a local level under the guidance of the Town Planning authorities and not the other way round, while the ever growing problem of water production and supply should be a collective decision of town councils that will also be burdened with the responsibility of prosecution in the case of the slightest hint of corruption or the absence of transparency. This will help towns and villages to be better developed at a local level, as the people on the ground know the unique needs of each community, be they beach facilities, better street lighting, energy saving or anything lese that will benefit the locals most.