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By Peter Stevenson MEMBERS of Volunteer Doctors Cyprus have treated around 350 people at their free clinic in Nicosia since it opened three months ago, while two more, one in Paphos and one in Polis are due to open today. Limassol also has a free clinic, which was opened only last month, and plans have been drawn ...
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SOME 10 days ago, foreign minister Ioannis Kasoulides raised expectations by announcing the possibility of a deal with Turkey for the opening of the fenced off area of Famagusta, for the return of its inhabitants. In exchange the Cyprus government would agree to the opening of Tymbou airport to direct flights. ...
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By George Psyllides PRIVATE auditors have expressed doubt the electricity authority (EAC) could be considered a going concern and have asked its board to draft a credible plan to tackle the problem, according to the auditor-general’s 2012 report on the semi-state company. Among other issues, ...
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Cyprus Internet Directory [ We need more than grand words on tourism ]

We need more than grand words on tourism

A FEW MONTHS after the election of this government, the newly-appointed Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism, Girogos Lillikas held a news conference to present his Strategic Plan for Tourism. He admitted that many of the measures and ideas were from the previous government’s plan, but this time there would be “emphasis on implementation”.

In other words, his predecessor may have had good ideas but he failed to implement them. Despite Lillikas’ “emphasis on implementation”, very little was done for tourism development, apart from very large amounts of money being spent on advertising campaigns abroad. The only other initiative was a misguided plan for the creation of golf courses, which would help property developers much more than the tourism industry, not to mention the additional demands on scarce water resources.

Despite the big advertising budgets, tourist arrivals have been in steady decline over the last six years. According to the Association of Cyprus Tourism Enterprises (STEK), tourism dropped by 10.4 per cent since 2001, while it is currently only 13 per cent of GDP, when for years it had been more than 20 per cent. The economy has not suffered because of the growth of the real estate market, which is now making a bigger contribution to GDP than tourism, but for how much longer can it offset the declining tourism revenue?

Once the land development boom, which cannot last many more years, is over, it will be extremely difficult for our tourism to regain its lost market share. Government officials will still be talking about the implementation of the latest strategic plan, looking for high-quality tourists, spending more and more millions on promoting the island, while imploring low budget airlines to operate scheduled flights. Neither the golf courses (if they are ever built), nor the casinos (if they are ever opened) will save the industry if the authorities continue to neglect the problem.

Leaving aside the grand-sounding strategic plan, the authorities should focus on the basics, such as looking after the environment. STEK organised a presentation on Tuesday at which guests were treated to a slide-show of scenes that put tourists off coming to Cyprus again. Slides included archaeological sites overgrown with weeds, graffiti in the historical parts of towns, rubbish strewn countryside, abandoned old bangers etc. These create a terrible impression to visitors. And although they could be put right in a few weeks, nobody seems willing to take any decisions.

Many other things need to be done. The ugliness of the tourist strips in the coastal towns would have to be tackled in the not too distant future, but this must be too complex a project for authorities that cannot even keep our tourist attractions clean and tidy. They are too busy formulating strategic plans they have no intention of putting into practice to bother with the basic requirements of a tourist destination.


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