We have studied the Auditor General’s report and his negative position on the proposal to create a golf course in the Cape Greco area 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 area is the shortest due to the lack of activity during the winter months, although the area hosts about 35% to 40% of tourist arrivals every year.
The marina in Ayia Napa and the one in Protaras have now been built. The second is under construction, which will certainly help attract tourism and upgrade the local tourist product, both quantitatively and qualitatively.
This comes in the form of expansion and new tourist units of more than 2,000 beds, while the upgrading of almost all units and leisure centres is noticeable.
However, there remains a low occupancy rate during the winter months, despite hundreds of housing units owned mainly by Nicosians and foreigners, which is the main support for tourism during the winter, in contrast to other cities (occupancy of about 30%).
It was expected that the recovery would continue into the winter after the summer months, but most hotels closed after October.
The golf course will offer activities to visitors for the benefit of all tourist units, residences in Airbnb-villas to let rentals and, by extension, the local leisure centres, shops, and restaurants.
All these combined will result in the extension of the season, the increase of the occupancy of the units, and the upgrade of the tourist product, both in the quality of the units and the facilities, including occasional rentals for weddings and events.
Both the municipalities of Paralimni and Ayia Napa and more recently Sotira, have shown that they have the courage and ability to carry out projects for the benefit of the local economy, while local events (strawberry festival, the one for kolokasi, concerts and religious tourism) are most welcome.
I believe that the golf course is essential for the local economy and its sustainability to a large extent, and together with marinas and new anticipated projects (such as the development of the Liopetri River) and other hotels, it will add value to the region.
Famagusta is the favourite destination of Nicosians that keeps the constant demand and at times of low occupancy, while quality restaurants are partially maintained in demand by them.
Regarding golf water, this is not a particular problem due to treated sewerage in the two municipalities next to the project.
There is a negative report by the Committee on the Environment due to Natura and migratory birds.
Of course, we are all concerned about the issue, but on the other hand, there is a huge Natura area that includes the whole of Cape Greco up to the ex-Kermia Hotel, Paralimni Lake, between Ayia Napa and up to the Golden Coast Hotel falls under this classification.
Meanwhile, infrastructure projects such as the coastal pedestrian footpath along Kermia-Ayia Napa were cancelled because of this same Committee, claiming that the stakes and support pillars in the sea will affect the fish (as what happened in Limassol’s Amathus area).
The same Committee on the Environment even cancelled the sinking of two vessels (which were eventually carried out) to enrich diving tourism.
However, this Committee proved wrong when none of the pollution risks was realised, while similar successful sinkings worldwide exist.
This golf course started with no requirements for adjacent hotels or residences.
Now the developers themselves have increased their appetite and asked for more.
This is understandable because the golf course alone cannot survive.
For this reason, I wonder if the course will be viable without hotels and other developments in the project.
In addition, the state demands rent on the value of governmental land of 5% a year, a very high percentage that does not consider the benefit that this development will attract to the wider region.
It is the wrong approach.
Antonis Loizou FRICS – Antonis Loizou & Associates EPE – Real Estate Appraisers & Development Project Managers