After pending for 8 years a proposed Famagusta region golf course seems to have a chance of getting the go-ahead (be it that it will take another 1-2 years to have the proposal preparation and the final decision to follow).
Much of the delay was caused by the developers themselves who originally submitted a proposal for a golf course only, but as the French say, “eating brings up the appetite”, changed their mind and asked for a housing development and hotel as well.
The Government has, admittedly, tried to help the original proposal, but it came up against another obstacle, the so-called “passing route” of migrating birds. So that location was dropped.
Now a new area is found, and it seems that there are no environmental issues, so let’s hope that it will go ahead at some time in the near future.
We are not particularly sympathetic to the change of mind of the developers, but there are wider benefits for the region with a local golf course in place.
The Famagusta region hosts approximately 40% of the foreign tourist trade and approximately 50% of local visitors, yet it has the shortest occupancy season, as compared to the all-year destinations such as Limassol and to a lesser extent Paphos.
The end result is that 40% of the local hotels close during the winter period of October to March, with hotel staff laid-off, as well other services like bars and restaurants, organised excursions and sports also losing out.
Admittedly, and to their credit, local Municipalities, Ayia Napa is a good example, promote all sorts of attractions for the visitors to do during the off-season.
Easter events are one, the food festival is another, the Medieval Festival, the open-air sculptures park and so on.
There is the proposed coastal footpath at Potamos of Liopetri, the underwater sculpture park, the installation of security cameras to reduce crime, the pending amphitheatre and the ongoing football grounds success.
The Famagusta region is the top choice for a holiday home for Nicosia residents and to a lesser extent by the foreign market.
As there is little to do, foreigners have almost abandoned the area, notwithstanding the best beaches in Cyprus (see off-season places that are closed, giving an “abandoned” picture with the only permanent residents being cats).
If a golf course is in place and being the most popular area for Nicosia residents, the tourist season will expand, bringing more income for those who choose to let (we can assure you that there is much demand) plus other benefits.
So now the region has a chance with the Ayia Napa marina and the one under construction at Paralimni, along with the recent upgrading of the hotels and quality restaurants.
Golf will extend the season of occupancy and reduce unemployment which is soul-destroying.
This is a region which has been the worst affected by the Turkish invasion and as we have said previously, the local municipalities are trying to finance and improve the quality of life of their residents and visitors.
The recent upsurge of foreign interest (see the Chinese hotel at Sotira, the improved beach at Ayia Thekla church, which is becoming popular for weddings, as are the small beach churches for christenings and weddings), are facts in hand.
Demand is there, quality is there (see 15-day wait to book for a hamburgers place located on the 5th floor of a hotel, various Italian places and even the Mexican place at Ayia Napa (with 7 days waiting) and the Paralimni steakhouse has 2-3 days waiting for a booking.
So that we do not paint a rose-tinted picture of the region, Famagusta has serious infrastructure problems, such as the local taxi mafia and the irregular bus service which does not cater for residents/tourists in the Paralimni region, who mainly want to visit Ayia Napa.
Then we have the provocative illegalities by some of the Municipalities (mainly Paralimni) such as the so-called kiosks in front of beach houses which have become grill bars without a permit and with the Government not having the authority to intervene.
The “koumbaros” relationship and local votes help towards this state of affairs and we even have beach containers which have been converted into “houses” to-let, the lack of local policing and of course the endless noise pollution.
As Winston Churchill said, “we have a democratic system which is not good, but until we find a better one, it is here to stay”.
Local Government democracy in this region leaves a lot to be desired.