Posts Tagged ‘Let’s rewind Cyprus back thirty years’

Let’s rewind Cyprus back thirty years

April 10, 2020

If all goes well and restrictive measures are lifted soon, then the first flow of tourists should be recorded early in July. — Deputy Tourism Minister Savvas Perdios

Once again we see Cypriot political elite and hoteliers living in la la land.

Where do they think the tourists are coming from?

Instead of wishing back to a world of more low quality mass tourists, when it ain’t going to happen, let us focus on fewer tourists, quality tourists, pause and reflect, rewind back to thirty years ago, pause and reflect on how we get from where are now to Cyprus once again being a quality destination, not a dustbin for the dregs of the tourist industry.

UK is fast catching up with Italy and Spain for covid-19 deaths. Wednesday the daily death toll for UK exceeded the worst day in Italy. Foreign Office advice, no foreign travel indefinite. Good Friday 980 deaths, exceeds the worst daily tally in Spain and Italy. UK is projected to be worst country in Europe. A key government adviser has said he expects lockdown, with some relaxation, to continue into the autumn. Then there is the problem of travel insurance, many insurance companies no longer offering travel insurance, those that do, have excluded cover for covid-19.

Russia is in lockdown. EU borders are closed.

Aircraft are grounded. EasyJet grounded indefinitely, expected to run out of money by August. There is strong opposition to any bailout of airlines.

The time should be used to deal with the systemic problems within the failing Cyprus tourist sector. Focus on quality, fewer tourists, quality tourists. Outlaw all-inclusive hotels which bring in the dregs of the tourist industry, little money flowing into the local economy.

Limit tour companies to less than 20% of bookings, payment on the dot at the end of the month, not end of season, with penalties if bills not settled on time.

Reliance on tour companies is to go back thirty years and simply a reflection of the laziness of hoteliers.

Everyone has smart phone, tablet, baby laptop, laptop, connected 24 hours to the internet. It is so easy to book a flight, book a hotel. Made easier still if public transport connecting airports with tourist resorts.

We do not need tour companies.

Zombie tour operator tui had debts of two billion euros before the coronavirus pandemic. Have no lessons been learnt from the collapse of Thomas Cook?

The last few years many local businesses have gone bust. They finished last season in very poor shape, and many more would not have survived another season.

Restaurants and bars and coffee shops in a race to the bottom to compete with all-inclusive hotels, a race no one can win.

Take a bulldozer to the worst bars that attract the dregs. Strict noise enforcement on those that remain, not audible in the street, silence after midnight.

Replace with traditional tavernas and coffee shops. It would be difficult to find good examples without visiting Plaka in Athens. Paul’s Coffee Roasters and Lazaris (though not for coffee) near St Lazarus Church in the back streets of Larnaca set high standards, take a pride in what they do, as does Nick’s Coffee Bike outside Larnaca Marina, but these are the rare exceptions, not the norm, oasis amidst the dross. Once the norm in Cyprus, until a race to the bottom to attract custom from all-inclusive hotels, a race no one can win.

Tourism is more than hotels, it is bars, coffee shops, restaurants, car hire, boat trips, water sports. All of which have suffered in recent years thanks to all-inclusive hotels.

Diversify away from tourism based on a handful of coastal resorts. Encourage rural tourism, bookings through FairBnB not AirBnB. AirBnB destroys local communities, FairBnB works with and supports local communities.

The project in Paphos to create a marina for 1,000 boats plus cruise ships is an example of the insanity that is destroying Cyprus. It should be scrapped.

Cruise ships are nothing more than glorified floating all-inclusive hotels, that cause horrendous damage wherever they dock, with little benefit to the local economy.

The streets of Athens, especially areas like Plaka and Acropli, are clogged whenever a cruse ship docks, causing a problem for both locals and visitors, and they do not spend any money. The tour buses ferrying them around, traffic congestion, noise and pollution.

Venice is being destroyed by cruise ships.

Cruise shop are major greenhouse gas emitters, plus passenger fly to start and end of trip. Cruise ships dump their sewerage and garbage overboard, including plastic.

Will there even be cruise ships? As we have seen floating hell when covid-19 spreads through the ship and nowhere will permit a plague ship to dock.

These floating all-inclusive hotels are now all rapidly returning to port, discharging their passengers and being mothballed. The industry has not just been devastated, it has ceased to function altogether. For it, coronavirus has been the perfect storm. It has gone from being an industry worth $46bn (£37bn) a year, with 26 million passengers per annum, to an almost total standstill overnight. The only destination for cruise ships, the scrap yard.

Visitors to Cyprus are given the impression Cypriots hate the natural world. Why otherwise destroy pristine coastline? The only beneficiaries are greedy developers and politicians in their pockets.

If Cyprus wishes to attract quality tourists then it has to start thinking what do they value? Pristine coastline, crystal blue sea, is one.

Use the money that would have been squandered on yet another white elephant to fund a Green New Deal.

Green Cyprus. Start with a tree planting programme, trees to shade bus stops on popular bus routes, for example 101/102 Paralimni Protaras Ayia Napa bus service.

With countries in lock down, social distancing, no association with others, avoid public transport, are these people as lock down ends, going to wish to pass through a busy airport, sit like sardines on a crowded passenger plane all breathing in the same air for four hours?

Before a single visitor could land in Cyprus, Cyprus would have to be free of covid-19 for at least a month. The same would apply to the country the visitors were departing from.

At the airports, temperature screening, facilities to isolate and quarantine. The hotels maximum 50% capacity, strict social distancing regime in place, temperature scanning every time anyone entered the hotel. Sunbeds spaced well apart (excludes many hotels), sunbeds cleaned every evening (a novelty for many hotels). Gyms saunas massage not in use. Moot point if pool in use. If in use, strict enforcement on numbers in the pool, shower before and after the pool.

If open this season, not likely to be until end of season. Hoteliers need to get their act together, put in the hard graft, focus on direct bookings, offer regulars a good deal for when if open this season and for next season, with option to change booking at no extra cost.

Yes, please wind the clock back thirty years to when Cyprus was a quality destination, not a dustbin for the dregs of the tourist industry.

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