Cyprus Editorial: Nicosia needs ‘knowledge region’, not 6-star hotel

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All the fuss and hoopla about a Qatari sheikh wanting to build a six-star luxury hotel across the street from the Hilton, makes one wonder where these ludicrous stories are generated and who gets to benefit (financially speaking) from such a project.
On the other hand, events organisers and customers may be right to complain that not much seems to have happened at the Cyprus Hilton in recent years as regards repairs and expansion work. There had been plans to resolve the parking issue as all the vacant lots are taken up people from nearby offices or airline staff shuttled to Larnaca airport who enjoy the free parking for the whole day.
However, these and other shortcoming are no reason for the Nicosia Chamber of Commerce recently to get all hyped up recently and call for the abandoned Philoxenia to be transformed into a luxury hotel and conference centre.
Nicosia cannot compete with the 1000-plus capacities of coastal hotels that make their bread and butter from conferences and incentive travel. The capital should at least look to fix up what it already has and then start talking about new and ambitious projects that, similar to the glorious ego-driven plan for the Centre for the Arts, will be abandoned soon after Cyprus ends hosting the EU presidency in 2012.
The Qatar plan smacks of personal interest that will cost the taxpayer more to maintain when the owner decides a few years from now that it is no longer commercially viable and will look to offload it on the government.
The proximity of the state-owned land to the University of Cyprus could only suggest that it be used to develop the “knowledge region” concept in Nicosia, as suggested by the university’s own rector, Stavros Zenios, in a number of recent public presentations. Besides, if the government owns the land, then obviously it will cost it less to build a new project there, as opposed to having to buy existing land elsewhere at commercial rates and burden the taxpayer even further.
Building anything else would be futile and not in the interest of the capital and the national in general.