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Dams hide a sporting secret

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One of Cyprus’ many attractive features is water dams scattered everywhere, especially in the Paphos and Limassol regions.

In addition to the human necessity of such water dams, they are used for various sports for which the dams are especially suitable, such as rowing, canoeing, small boat sailing, water ski training.

Some of these dams are a beauty to behold.

As an example, I point out the Xyliatos dam (near Nicosia), where forest trees and especially pines emerge from the water, a waterfall with a footpath for walks to go around.

Most dams have a nature trail, suitable for lovers of nature, dog walks and bicycling, whereas others include picnic areas with tables and other facilities.

Unfortunately, the dams are not exploited to their fullest.

The government has not promoted them as an attraction, and I also blame the local authorities for the same reason.

Now, we might have a chance to implement some of the following ideas through the Deputy Ministry of Tourism, which has produced good work over the 24 months of its creation.

The use of dams and the local environment’s exploitation will help local and foreign visitors extend their visits, a beautiful place to establish new friendships (business including) and outdoor activities, with a positive reflection on investment in real estate.

When Andreas Christou was mayor of Limassol and following my suggestion, he called a meeting of all Limassol District municipalities and local authorities (including the SBA) to discuss how nature could help outdoor activities.

Dams were discussed, and the people representing the Water Department expressed their ideas, as did the tourism officials.

But both had reservations that such ideas would be blocked since the use of dams required regulations to be approved by the House of Representatives, where they are pending for 14 years.

The SBA representative also suggested using a fun small train connection going through the Fasouri plantation, leading to historical places like Curium and Kolossi Castle.

Water dams are not always full, but in recent years, God has blessed Cyprus with plenty of rainwater; hence it is time for reconsideration.

Dams could be explored by private companies (or others) with the cooperation of the Water Development Department to allow the use of their embankment by cafés, restaurants, and sports clubs.

These investors should create parking and access passages to the water level, including boat shelters’ construction.

Investments could attract funds from the Cyprus Sports Organisation (KOA) and EU and other funding, including private clubs.

At present, water sports do not lend themselves for year-round activity, and they depend on the weather and facilities provided.

Depending on their size, Dams could be used for different sports and recreational activities, such as the Polemidhia dam for ski lessons, Xyliatos dam for fishing, Kourris and Yermasoyia for sailing and rowing, and the one in Lefkara for hiking and bird watching.

Four years ago, I watched a dragon boat race at the Yermasoyia dam, and despite the limited facilities, we had a great fun family time. This sort of sport we only see on TV.

In extending the tourist season, Ayia Napa Municipality hosts several northern European football teams for ‘warm weather training’ during winter, most rewarding to the hoteliers and local establishments.

Other municipalities have limited initiative, whereas the governmental bureaucracy is most shocking and does not help.

As was the case of a proposed theme-adventure park at Troodos, with the investor having waited for four years to get a reply on the level of the land lease and notwithstanding the government’s delayed approval, has walked away from the project.

Other unexplored Cyprus countryside beauty ideas are the alternative theme parks in Ayia Napa, such as the sculpture park, indigenous plants, the Love Bridge, and sinking boats to create reefs for divers.

Larnaca has taken the lead with the recent sinking of two large ships for divers, while the Zenovia is ranked the third most attractive divers’ spot globally.

An example to be avoided are the recently built beach volley courts at Protaras, which hosted the international universities games and were abandoned and vandalised after the games.

Limassol could use the Ladies Mile beach area (master plan pending for the past three years with funds available), Paphos has the “German” Farmhouse.

Akamas park is a rising star for outdoor activities, when and if this will happen after a 25-year wait.

Our tourist product of sun and sea is not sustainable.

The pandemic forced Cypriots to visit destinations at home instead of holidays abroad, and based on recent reports, the public is enthusiastic (especially for the mountains and Paphos region).