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Ayia Napa golf in the rough

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We have studied the Forest Department report and the Auditor General’s (with his negative position) on creating a golf course in Cape Greco between Paralimni and Ayia Napa; and the need for such infrastructure projects in the area.

IN FAVOUR OF GOLF

It is a fact that the tourist season of the Famagusta region is the shortest, and due to this, there is a lack of employment during the winter months, even though the Famagusta region hosts about 37% of tourist arrivals every year.

Two marinas are being built, one in Ayia Napa and one in Protaras, which will help engage tourism and upgrade the local tourist product (both quantitatively and qualitatively).

We have now expanded, and new tourist units with more than 2,000 beds have been added, while the upgrading of almost all units is noticeable.

However, low occupancy remains in the winter months, despite hundreds of residential units (mainly from Nicosia and foreigners) during the winter season, which is the main support for tourism, in contrast to the other cities.

The golf course will offer activities to visitors for the benefit of all tourist units, Airbnb-Villas to let rentals, and local businesses, shops, restaurants, and service providers.

All this will extend the season, increase the occupancy of the units, increase revenues and upgrade the tourist product in terms of the quality of the units and facilities, including occasional rentals for weddings and events.

Both the Municipality of Paralimni and Ayia Napa and more recently Sotira, have shown that they have the strength and ability to carry out projects for the benefit of the local economy, while local events (from the strawberry festival to concerts and religious tourism – especially during Easter) are the best.

The golf course is imperative to the local economy and its sustainability.

The marinas and the new expected projects (such as that of the Liopetri River) will add another upgraded image to the area.

Famagusta district is Nicosians’ favourite destination that keeps constant demand during periods of low occupancy, while they partially keep quality restaurants in demand.

As for the water needed for golf courses, this is not much of a problem due to the processing of the sewerage water of the two Municipalities right next to the project with excess water.

AGAINST GOLF

There is the report of the Environment Committee, which is against it because of migratory birds.

Of course, we are concerned about the issue.

But, still, on the other hand, there is a huge area of Natura in this region that includes all of Cape Greco up to the Kermia hotel, the lake of Paralimni, the entire area between Ayia Napa and up to the Golden Coast Hotel that falls under this classification.

Infrastructure projects, such as the coastal pedestrian walkway along the Kermia-Ayia Napa coastal area, have been abandoned because of this same committee because construction works will affect the fish.

The same Environment Committee cancelled two sinkings of boats to enrich diving tourism, to render them useless.

But this was proven wrong when none of the pollution fears came to pass.

See a more recent proposal to sink tanks for the same purpose while similar sinkings occur worldwide.

This golf course started as one with no hotel or residence requirements.

But, now the developers have whetted their appetite and are asking for more and more.

This is understandable because the golf course alone cannot financially survive. But in addition, the state requests a rent on the value of the public land of 5%/year, a very high rate that does not consider the benefit that this development will cause. This doesn’t seem right.

CONCLUSION

What should have weight is the public interest for the benefit of the place and economy, while the classification of an area as a Natura site does not prohibit development.

We reiterate the EU Court decision in Hungary for a lawsuit against the construction of a factory in a Natura area which indicated that “the priority is the well-being of the residents”.

So, how do we compromise between the position of the Environment Committee and the Public Interest, the residents and the economy?

Between the two positions, I believe that the benefit to the economy should prevail, considering as much protection for the environment as possible and not cancelling this project altogether.

The public interest and the well-being of the local residents, especially the economy, is the primary goal not to be affected by the possible reduction of the quality of the environment.

I have noted the view of the Forest Department and the Auditor General.

Studying them, there is a clear finding that the Department has a rather spherical view, taking into account the needs (economic and other) of the region, while that of the Auditor General, with his general strict attitude, is not only cancelling the golf but more noticeable implying corruption.

For us, the region has a problem with seasonality.

It should be helped financially, even if, in the meantime, the various golf entrepreneurs will benefit because the goal is more general and longer-term.

I am surprised by the non-declaration of a position from the local business chamber (EBEL), the hoteliers, and even the unions, which are also direct beneficiaries.

If the position of the Auditor General, or similar, prevails, then no marina would be built in the area and no infrastructure projects.

But it seems that each of us, ignoring the public benefit and the expectation of improvement, prefers to watch the developments from a distance, complaining after the fact.

 

By Antonis Loizou FRICS – Antonis Loizou & Associates EPE – Real Estate Appraisers & Development Project Managers