Posts Tagged ‘tourism’

Tui covid-19 flight TOM6215 Zante to Cardiff

August 31, 2020

Zante to Cardiff the second tui coronavirus flight in as many days.

Two tui covid-19 flights, the first Zante with coronavirus-positive passengers bound for Plymouth,  the second Zante to Cardiff. Is there a third,  a fourth? On each flight at least half a dozen cases.

The Cardiff flight, passengers have complained lack of social distancing at check in, staff handling phones of passengers, on the flight failure to enforce lack of wearing of face masks, passengers not wearing masks walking around the plane to speak to fellow passengers, one lady had someone sat next to her with no mask, it beggars belief tui serving food and drinks on the flight and it goes without saying packed in like sardines.

Failure by tui to thoroughly clean the plane on turnaround. One passenger found wet wipes behind the seat in front.

On public transport, trains and buses, mandatory to wear masks but on tui flights anything goes.

Delta no mask removed from flight, blacklisted from future flights.

Why did the crew not note all those who refused to wear face masks as instructed, pilot radio ahead their details, police waiting to escort them off the plane on landing?

Passengers on the Cardiff flight say the first they were aware they were at risk of infection was when they heard it on the news and through social media.

A lady who was sat next to a passenger not wearing a mask, who said the crew failed to act, has now developed coronavirus symptoms. She hopes it is only a cold, but will have covid-19 test to be sure.

Stephanie Whitfield who was on the tui flight to Cardiff has described how passengers were not wearing masks correctly and just seemed to “disregard the rules”.

She told ITV Wales that she “didn’t feel safe” on board the flight:

I don’t think many of the passengers had been completely educated on the use of face masks.

There were people with their masks underneath their noses, underneath their chins, people were taking them off to speak to other people, taking them off and wandering down the aisle to speak to other people.

I didn’t feel safe and we took the decision before we got back into Cardiff that we were going to self isolate just because we thought it was the responsible thing to do.

I was sat in the middle seat and the gentleman next to me had his mask around his chin so for me to kind of highlight it to someone I would have then had to spend the next three and a half hours sat next to someone feeling very uncomfortable, so I didn’t feel like I was able to do that.

Every single passenger on the Cardiff flight has been instructed by Public Health Wales to self-isolate.

Tui claim they care about the health a safety of their passengers. A sick joke as they do not care about their package holiday clients and their welfare. In 2016 tui was knowingly dumping clients on a building site.

Travelling in a sealed tube in close proximity to other people is a sure plus way to catch covid-19. Passengers wandering around the sealed tube help spread the virus to other passengers.

On the Zante to Cardiff flight, at least three groups of people scattered throughout the plane have tested positive.

Dr Gwen Lowe, consultant in communicable disease control for Public Health Wales has said last week ‘we’ve had about 30 cases in Wales that have come back from Zante’.

Different flights on different days staying in different locations. These are confirmed positive cases and we’re expecting that number to rise.

Up to 30 in a group travelling to Plymouth may have been infected on a flight from Zante. They have subsequently been out drinking in Plymouth.

Greece was already at risk of of being placed on the UK quarantine list.

Greece must deal with the Zante coronavirus hotspot that is spreading covid-19 across Europe. Zante must be placed in lockdown, no travel to and from Zante and as absolute minimum close all bars and nightclubs and anywhere groups of people gather. In an attempt to slow covid-19, across Greece bars and restaurants have to close by midnight.

Tui should halt all flights to Zante. The only flights to bring back stranded clients, who must then face 14-day quarantine.

Update: A third tui flight, Zante to Glasgow had passengers who tested positive for covid-19.  Glasgow has been placed in partial lockdown.

Update: Wales has imposed quarantine for all flights from Zante. Scotland has imposed quarantine for arrivals from Greece.

Update: A WizzAir flight Athens to Larnaca, a passenger not wearing a mask correctly was questioned by police on arrival and fined.

A journey by river through the Balkans

August 16, 2020

A journey through the Balkans via a river, starting in Slovenia where the Sava River has its source at a waterfall.

Slovenia is roughly the size of Wales, with roughly the same population, but there the comparison ends.

The per capita income in Slovenia is higher than Wales. Slovenia is green, forested, the rivers are teeming with fish, the centre of the capital Ljubljana is traffic free, for those who need it, free transport via electric cart. Slovenia attracts quality tourists.

Other countries need to learn from Slovenia, move away from mass tourism that is trashing the planet, destroying local culture, pedestrianise cities, make traffic free, tables in the streets, develop post-pandemic doughnut economic recovery plans.

Cyprus has seen its tourist sector collapse. Dependency on tour companies, mass tourism is not the way forward as it brought little benefit to the local economy. Cyprus must seize the opportunity granted by coronavirus, attract direct bookings, longer stay, end the stranglehold tour companies have on the sector, outlaw all-inclusive hotels, attract quality tourists.

England has seen the hospitality sector not recover from lockdown, nor should we lump all hospitality together. Pubs, bars, binge drinking bars, coffee shops, restaurants, hotels, are not all the same and should not be all lumped together. It was a mistake to open pubs and the very least the binge drinking bars attracting drunken yobs should be closed and remain closed. Anecdotal evidence is that the Eat Out to Help Out, 50% discount if dine Monday Tuesday and Wednesday, has simply moved eating out to these three days at a massive cost to the taxpayer, the money could have been put to better use. We could have helped indie restaurants and coffee shops by closing streets, pedestrianise, tables in the streets, as they have successfully done in Soho and Covent Garden.

14-day quarantine UK arrivals from Spain

July 26, 2020

As of midnight last night, all arrivals into UK from Spain will have to go into 14-day quarantine.

Strictly speaking self-isolation, not quarantine.

For once the UK government has acted promptly.

14-day self-isolation for arrivals from Spain, FCO advice, do not travel to Spain (Balearic Islands and Canary Islands exempt).

Spanish holiday in Tenerife during the summer. Thus what is safe today may not remain safe.

The usual suspects are bleating, airlines, tour companies. They knew Spain was high risk, but happily transported tourists to Spain.

Reckless behaviour by Jet 2 encouraging tourists to ignore FCO advice and travel to Spain regardless. Those stupid enough to ignore FCO advice will invalidate their travel insurance.

Nothing surprises me cowboy Ryanair.

Countries across Europe are acting responsibly, restricting where visitors are from, who can enter the country.

More countries could be added at short notice to the UK quarantine list.

We can take the train. It will reduce CO2 emissions, but does nothing to halt the spread of covid-19. When we travel, we risk spreading covid-19.

Everyone entering UK should be scanned for high temperature, random testing of arrivals.

Those who travelled to Spain, should have known it was risky. Did travel companies like tui and Jet2 not warn them? I doubt it.

Only a couple of weeks ago, travel companies flew a plane load of willing lackeys who would write glowing reports it is safe.

If we look at affected regions in Spain, the numbers of covid-19 cases had shot up in the last few days.

The Spanish Foreign Minister who claims coronavirus under control, she also claims no political show trials in Catalonia, demonstrates her stupidity every time she opens her mouth.

If we look at USA, fast approaching 100,000 case per day.

Beaches packed, nightclubs and bars heaving. Only now has Barcelona shut down nightclubs, affected tourist areas shut down bars. In US very late in the day shut down bars.

Why were they ever open?

We should all be learning lessons.

We do not heed the whining from the tourist sector. They are not victims as they like to portray themselves, they are the perpetrators.

In England, why are pubs open? Why is The Lion and Snake and other pubs full of drunks, fights in the street, not closed, licence withdrawn?

Leicester in lockdown, why no roadblocks?

Bolton and other cities seeing sharp rise in cases, why no local lockdown?

Unless streets are closed traffic free tables in the street we are going to lose many local indie coffee shops and restaurants.

We must rethink tourism. In Venice they are rethinking tourism. It is ridiculous flying to a location for one week to sit in a bar full of drunken yobs from UK. We must encourage longer stay, direct bookings, end stranglehold of tour companies on the sector, quality tourists, fewer tourists, implement a post-pandemic doughnut economics recovery programme.

Few places are safe to travel to. It is not only the risk of quarantine on return, it is the risk of being stranded, of falling sick. Does your travel insurance even cover covid-19?

And those places that have had few cases, where unlike UK they acted quickly, will see cases rise if they permit visitors from countries like UK where covid-19 is not under control.

Those returning from Spain, or had their package holiday cancelled, will very soon discover the cover tui was offering not worth the paper it was written on.

Cancelled flights, refunds within seven days. Cancelled package holidays, refunds within fourteen days. But good luck with that as many are still waiting a refund.

Cyprus hotels refuse refunds on bookings

May 3, 2020

Not a controversial plan, nor does it support tourism. As many have already pointed out, an act of crass stupidity and unlawful. Does government not have competent lawyers who can give sound advice?

What the Cyprus Mail headlines as ‘Controversial plan to support tourism’, legalisation to renege on refunds to those who have booked for hotels in Cyprus, would not only be a contravention of EU Directive, it would do irreparable harm to the tourism sector.

The House commerce committee will discuss on Wednesday ways of salvaging the tourism sector, including a controversial plan for businesses to issue vouchers instead of cash refunds to customers for cancelled bookings.

The issuance of such vouchers is to help shield the hard-hit tourism sector from the effects of the coronavirus epidemic that has brought global travel to a financially devastating halt.

Yet such a plan contravenes EU law, of which the European Commission is the guardian, which provides customers with the right to choose between a cash refund or accepting a voucher for a future package holiday.

Cyprus village mentality writ large.

Such legislation would have no legal legs to stand on as would contravene EU directive which holds precedence. It would be also be self defeating, self-harming and counterproductive.

Cyprus already has a reputation of short sighted hoteliers out for a fast buck cannot see past end of nose, of dustbin for the dregs of the tourist industry, this foolhardy measure would only serve to enhance that reputation.

This one measure, short changing tourists and ripping them off with worthless vouchers, would simply enhance the well deserved reputation of Cyprus as a bunch of sharks. The opposite should happen, those hotels failing to refund guests, name and shame, hit with a hefty fine, and close for the season.

Cyprus is dependent on tourists from UK. With every household hit by £450, staff furloughed or fired, people losing their businesses, refunds matter, being offered worthless vouchers an insult.

Yes pass legalisation but pass legalisation that helps not harms.

Two measures, which would not only help improve the image of Cyprus, would not only benefit hoteliers, would benefit the entire sector.

  • outlaw all-inclusive hotels
  • limit tour companies to 20% of occupancy

No one tour company more than 10% occupancy, tour companies pay at the end of each month not end of season, penalty if do not pay on time.

There can be no return to business as usual. There must be an end to mass tourism, destroying the planet, destroying Cyprus, brings the dregs of the tourist industry to Cyprus.

Time should be spent on reflection, how do we improve Cyprus, and it has a long way to go.

Develop Doughnut Economics Cyprus, adapt Doughnut Economics Amsterdam. How to achieve zero carbon 2035 whilst at the same time maintaining a healthy tourism sector in which all share its benefits, and of late, before covid-19 pandemic, tourism was not in a healthy state.

Tourism is more than hotels, it is car hire, watersports, restaurants, coffee shops, boat trips.

All-inclusive benefits foreign tour companies, little money flows into the local economy.

There is already a problem of airlines and tour companies refusing refunds, offering worthless vouchers. In UK, airlines and tour companies are under official investigation by Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) for not promptly supplying refunds as legally required.

Instead of refusing refunds be positive, offer flexible bookings, if cannot come now then come later and if need to change dates, we will do so at no extra cost.

By all means offer a voucher, but provide a choice, not no refund, and make it worthwhile, if accept a voucher, we will offer extra days, dinner if only booked bed and breakfast.

By refusing to pay refunds, it is using the hotel  sector’s  most desirable clients to bail out the hotel. These would be direct bookings, most likely regulars,  the very visitors Cyprus should be encouraging not discouraging.

If a hotel has low occupancy, offering free accommodation, two for the price of one, two weeks if booked one week.  The marginal cost is low as fixed costs are the same whether a hotel low occupancy or high occupancy.

Attract direct bookings. Offer amazing deals to regulars if book direct, not only this season (which at earliest will be end of season) but also for 2021.

Many years ago, my first visit to Cyprus, we were met at the door by the hotel manager, he had a problem not of his making, work had overrun, work for an internal pool not ready, the outside pool a lagoon pool was not going to be started or at least finished for the season and temporary pool was in place (better than most hotels).

He made an offer:

  • relocate to a 4-star hotel as good or better
  • free drinks during our stay
  • return next year for free

A few took the free drinks, we took free stay the following year. We went home with a good story to tell about the hotel, not a bad story.

But that is the difference between a good manager who cares about the reputation of a hotel, wants his guests to return, recommend to their friends, and and a bad manager who is only interested in short term profit, turning around a quick buck. The bad manager would have let people stay and ignored their complaints.

I have since spent a lot of time in Cyprus, but had my first trip been a bad experience, I would not have returned. I have met many visitors to Cyprus who say they will never return. When asked why, bad hotel. Other reasons given, noisy bars, unable to sleep at night, the drunk tourists both inside the hotel and out on the streets.

 

Doughnut Economics Cyprus

April 27, 2020

A couple of weeks ago the Cyprus finance minister opened himself up to ridicule when he claimed the Cyprus economy was going to shrink by about five percent.

The following week the figure had  been revised to ten per cent, which was at best wishful thinking.

With loss of the Cyprus tourist sector, and anyone who thinks Cyprus is going to see any tourists before the end of the season is living in la la land, the economic downturn is going to be far greater than ten per cent.

The world is heading into economic meltdown far worse than the Great Depression, international trade already down by 30%. IMF has warned the global recession is likely to be worse than the Great Depression, and has urged countries to spend, spend, then spend some more, which is an amazing about turn for the IMF.

To put the Cypriot figures in context, the UK economy is expected to shrink by anywhere between 13 per cent and 30 per cent depending on which model, the assumptions fed into the model. The Treasury has forecast April May June the economy may shrink by 30 per cent.

We can not go back to normal as normal was not normal, it was destroying the planet.

We have been able to hear birdsong, our streets traffic free, our cites pollution free, the skies free of planes. A world few of us will have seen in our lifetimes. In India they are able to see in the far distance the snow covered Himalayas, a sight last seen over thirty years ago,

We were told we could not cut carbon emissions within the timescale required for zero carbon 2035, it was impossible, impractical, and yet we have achieved massive reductions overnight.

Politics is not a race, two or more corrupt  political parties in a race as to decide who gets the opportunity to do the bidding of oligarchs.

Politics is who does what to whom.

We have seen capitalism put into suspended animation.  We are in a postcapitalist world, we have been since 2008. Who decides what the future will look look like once we are through the coronavirus pandemic?

If we look to the UK, Chancellor Rishi Sunak  has made billions of pounds available, to furlough workers with the government providing 80% of salary, a week later for the self employed, grants, soft loans to small businesses, all to keep businesses in hibernation,  ready to be woken up.

In the covid-19 pandemic we are living in another now. What we have to do is create our own another now, an alternative reality, a vision of how we wish the world to be. We failed in 2008, we cannot fail again in 2020, we cannot return to what was the norm, as the norm was not normal.

EU failed to deliver on eurobonds, offered loans that put the southern vassal states in debt bondage with austerity to follow.

We have seen post-WWII relentless rise in GDP, or at least up to the 2008, but this rise is not normal, it has been at huge environmental cost, and the increase in GDP has not been fairly distributed, it has been shared with the rich.

If I ask a bank for $100,000 to safeguard an ancient forest, I will probably not get very far. If I ask for $1 million to cut down the forest sell the timber they will happily give me the money.

If I ask a bank for 100 million euros to destroy pristine coastline for a hotel development, bring in dredged sand to create a beach, destroy bamboo groves habitat of  a rare endangered snail, show I will have guaranteed contracts with a big tour company to bring in all-inclusive guests, I will of course not tell them no benefit to the local economy, the bank will hand me the money, or at least they would have pre-coronavirus pandemic.

Destruction of a forest, of a pristine coastline, is not without costs, soil erosion, floods, loss of a carbon sink, species loss, degradation of water supply, loss of inshore fishing and fish breading grounds, which then feeds into ocean acidification, warming climate, rising sea levels, forest degradation, loss of coastline, further loss of fisheries. These costs are dismissed as externalities (a polite way of saying someone else problem).

The standard economic model showing monetary flows between households and businesses, together with flows of capital and goods and services, sometimes expanded to include the role of banks and government, is too simplified, it takes no account of the economy is embedded within society, which in turn is embedded within Gaia.

Never confuse a model with reality, even worse distort reality to reflect the model.

Kate Raworth has drawn a model, that incorporates what went before, but also includes the commons, the flow of energy, flow of materials, and thus more accurately reflects reality.

We therefore have to devise a new economic system, one that sees the poor are not left behind, are not  reliant on food banks, homeless are not living on our streets, whilst at the same time we do not exceed our planetary limits and what we do produce is fair and  equitable.

One such system is doughnut economics. How do we apply it to Cyprus, to the island, to municipalities, to sectors?

Look to Amsterdam, where the city is working with Kate Raworth to devise doughnut economics for the city, a 21st century economic system.

One of the largest sectors in Cyprus is tourism, it cannot be a return to mass tourism which not only is destroying the planet is destroying Cyprus, it brings in the dregs of the tourist industry, all-inclusive hotels with no benefit for the local economy.

Does Cyprus need an easyJet flight every day, sometimes two a day, would not two or three a week suffice, assuming easyJet is in business and will not run out of money by August?

A proposal for a doughnut economy for Cyprus, a broad brush to be expanded upon.

Doughnut economics was developed by Oxford economist Kate Raworth as an antidote to conventional economics which does not reflect the real world and has not served us well.

What is the economy for? Until we can answer that question, how do we know what to measure, how do we measure success?

Economies need to be distributive, regenerative.

Visualise a doughnut. In the centre nothing, this is where resides abuse of human rights, poverty, malnutrition, homelessness, food banks, it is where we should not be. The body of the doughnut is where we wish to be, a circular economy, everyone’s needs met, living within the limits of the planet. Beyond the doughnut, again where we should not be, global warming, species loss, habitat destruction, acidification of our oceans, pollution, rising sea levels.

Kate Raworth has developed a doughnut economics model for Amsterdam, working with the city. Something that should be studied, adapted to Cyprus, but no two places are the same.

For Cyprus we need a doughnut model for the island and for each and every municipality and sector, and the people involved in developing it.

The largest sector in Cyprus is tourism, but it is not in a healthy state, has not been for years, and looking at crude tourist numbers is about as helpful as focusing on GDP to measure economic well being.

One only had to wander through Protaras last year at the height of the tourist season to see all was not well.  During the day, mid-afternoon, empty sunbeds, watersports siting idle. At night, during the evening, bars and restaurants empty.

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.

Tourism has to benefit society with minimum impact on the environment.

Mass tourism is bad for the planet, bad for Cyprus, it is not sustainable.

There is an over-reliance on tour companies, on mass tourism, on all-inclusive hotels.

Cyprus has become the dustbin for the dregs of the tourist industry, all-inclusive attracts the dregs, little if any money flows into the local economy.

Cyprus is not going to see tourists this year, therefore time to reflect, seize the opportunity for radical change and innovation.

Rewind the tourist sector to thirty years ago when Cyprus was a quality destination, attracted quality tourists, when hoteliers took a pride in their hotels, restaurateurs in their restaurants.

Cyprus needs far fewer tourists, quality tourists. There should be no all-inclusive hotels, tour companies should be no more than 20% of hotel bookings (no single tour operator more than 10%), pay promptly at the end of the month (with penalty for late payment).

Encourage long stay, fourteen days and longer, discourage short stay, short breaks, seven days and shorter. Fewer flights for the same hotel occupancy.

The noisy bars bulldoze to the ground.  Restaurants in an attempt to compete with all-inclusive hotels are in a race to the bottom, a race to the bottom no one can win.

What passes as coffee shops is laughable, Cyprus is infamous for bad coffee, coffee shops serving drinkable coffee could count on one hand.

Replace noisy bars 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.

For restaurants slow food not fast food, local cuisine using fresh local seasonal produce.  Sea food restaurants overlooking the sea, fresh caught fish, for example Spartiatis overlooking Konnos Bay and Demetrion beside Liopetri River overlooking the sea.

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.

There is a need to improve standards within the tourist sector, hotels, restaurants, bars, coffee shops. How to measure standards?

TripAdvisor is worthless, fake reviews and trolls. Google Maps marginally better. Proposal to tender a contract to assess standards  seriously flawed in a country where everyone knows everyone, someones cousin friend went to school with.

Create an open source open coop collaborate commons platform Booking Cyprus. Charge a small fee to generate a surplus to maintain and improve the platform and fund local community green projects.

There is a need to diversify within the tourist sector.

Diversify away from tourism based on a handful of coastal resorts.

Encourage rural tourism, bookings through FairBnB not AirBnB. AirBnB destroys local communitiesFairBnB works with and supports local communities.

Encourage cultural tourism.

An example would be a week of tango at Grecian Park, not organised by the hotel, they host a week organised by two dancers well known within the world of tango.

A green new deal, use it to kick start the economy. 

Look to what DiEM25 is proposing for Europe. EU needs to issue eurobonds, €500 billion a year to finance a Green New Deal for Europe.

Implement a tree planting programme. Start by planting trees at bus stops for the 101 / 102 bus service Paralimni Protaras Ayia Napa to provide much needed shade.

Pedestrianise the sea front at Larnaca and extend the pedestrianised area into the back streets around St Lazaris Church. Provide an electric shuttle bus service from, Larnaca Marina to Mackenzie Beach.

Cyprus is over-reliant on oil imports, which is crazy in a country with abundant sunshine. Install roof top solar, feed into local community owned and controlled local grids, paid a fair price, consumers pay a fair price, surplus generation fed to other local grids via a publicly owned national grid, any ‘profit’ fed back into the local grid or used to fund local community projects.

The proposed Paphos Marina with facilities for cruise ships should be scrapped. Cruise ships are floating environmental disasters.  Floating all-inclusive hotels that bring no benefits to local economies.

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 $46 billion (£37 billion) a year, with 26 million passengers per annum, to an almost total standstill overnight. The only destination for cruise ships, the scrap yard.

Art and culture should be part of our doughnut.

Art and culture would seem an oxymoron when said in the same breath as Ayia Napa, and yet Ayia Napa has an excellent International Sculpture Park on a hillside overlooking the sea and hosts an excellent Medieval Festival.

How many visitors are aware of the open air theatre during the summer in the grounds of Larnaca Castle?

Cyprus has a democratic deficit which should be addressed. Not only open municipalities to the public, open to public participation, live stream all meetings.

A doughnut may appear to be a simple concept, but appearances can be deceptive. Its power lies in its simplicity.

A lower social bound bellow which we should not fall. An upper planetary bound which we should not exceed. It is also circular, symbolises not only money flowing around the economy, but also symbolises mutual cooperation, collaborative commons.

A simple example will suffice. On changing money in a car hire, we are recommended to take a boat trip. The boat trip recommends a restaurant. The restaurant recommends a vineyard from where they source their wine. To visit the vineyard, we return to the car hire to hire a car. We pass through a lovely little village, learn of a house available through fairbnb should we be tempted to return. At the vineyard, we learn they are renting out a beautiful studio apartment with incredible views of the sea. We find a coffee shop which we have been recommended, and as is the nature of coffee shops, interesting conversations ensue with the owner and barista and fellow coffee drinkers, we learn of many cultural events, an out of the way fish restaurant overlooking the sea and of a taverna  overlooking the sea. We learn Cyprus has much to offer, which we would never have learnt of from tour guides at an all-inclusive hotel. And the local economy has benefited. And maybe we will return one day to explore further.

Salient points of a doughnut economy:

  • GDP is not a useful measure. We cannot have infinite growth on a finite planet. Obsession with GDP has destroyed the planet whilst at the same time creating obscene levels of  inequality. The top richest 1% have accrued more  wealth than the poorest 99%. Uncontrolled growth has a name, cancer.
  • Create, innovate, value human development. With rare exceptions there is a lack of innovation in Cyprus. One bar owner opens a bar with white seats, overpriced drinks, moronic music thudding out. Then more bars open with white seats, overpriced drinks, moronic music thudding out. Those that follow, do not bother to check the first bar always empty.
  • Understand the power of networks, how feedback systems operate.
  • An economic system must be distributive. All must share in the wealth created.
  • Transactions within an economy are not simply financial, nor are the players only government and private sector. The economy also has to include open coops, collaborate commons, each working in loose partnership with each other.
  • Economy has to be regenerative. It is a necessary but not sufficient condition to merely protect the natural world from harm.

The Cypriot economy is moribund if not in free fall, no tourists anytime soon.  The time should be put to productive use to implement a doughnut economy.

It is important public information, in Greek and English, to keep everyone informed, not only locals but also visitors. Then network and share with other municipalities, not only across Cyprus, across Europe.

No international travel anytime soon

April 17, 2020

I won’t be booking a summer holiday at this point. Let’s put it that way. — Grant Shapps Transport Sec

Airlines trashed the planet then spread covid-19 around the world.

It cannot be return to normal as normal was not normal.

We have peace and quiet, can hear birdsong, low levels of pollution, traffic-free streets.

Greece which is in lockdown, has explicitly barred tourists from UK.

UK is in lockdown for a further three weeks.

UK is headed to be worst effected country in Europe thanks to failure to act sooner.

FCO advice, no foreign travel indefinite.

Insurance companies have pulled travel insurance, those that still offer, have excluded codid-19 cover and I daresay hiked the price.

When people have experienced lockdown, social distancing, they are going to think twice to pass through a busy airport, sit on a crowded plane.

A Qantas flight to Brisbane on Monday in middle of covi-19 pandemic, passengers packed in like sardines, illustrates why no one will be flying anytime soon.

EasyJet grounded indefinitely, forecast to run out of money by August, is it their idea of a joke, we will leave the middle seat in a row empty?

If assume Airbus A320, would have to have one person on a row of three seats, no one in the row in front or behind, no one in the row aisle opposite. If assume 100 euros flight Gatwick to Larnaca, would have to charge 900 euros. And this is not even 2 metres separation, nor does it take account of breathing in the same air for over four hours.

In China, one passenger on a bus infected nine fellow passengers.

On landing, aircraft would have to be thoroughly cleaned, not a quick turnaround and tidy by the crew.

At airport, temperature screening, facilities to isolate and quarantine.

Cabin crew on an American airline and BA have tested positive for covid-19. Two Border Force offices at Heathrow have died. Fifteen employees of Transport for London have died.

What is sickening, easyJet are still promoting international travel. An e-mail today entitled Imagine yourself in the Canary Islands.

Tax dodging conman Richard Branson who is demanding a taxpayer funded £500 million bailout is flying near empty planes across the Atlantic.

But if not fly, a cruse ship?

Cruise ships are floating environmental disasters, floating plague ships, flights to and from start and end of a cruise.

Cruise ships are floating all-inclusive hotels, a disaster where ever they dock.

Venice is being destroyed by cruse ships.

Athens when a cruise ship docks, streets are clogged by passengers, streets clogged and polluted by tour buses, and no money flows into the local economy.

Those who think we are nearing the end, we are not, we are at the beginning of coronavirus pandemic.

The Black Death ravaged Europe for two hundred years. Venice lost a third of its population and never recovered.

We have no vaccine, there may be no vaccine.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, much to the chagrin of the tourist industry, has warned there will be no summer holiday this year, do not book a summer holiday.

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.

AirBnB bookings fall off a cliff

April 9, 2020

With cities in lockdown, airports closed, borders closed, airlines grounded, bookings dried up, AirBnB hosts are bleating at having to refund bookings.

Sorry, we should not feel.

AirBnB is an unregulated sector, it is destroying cities, people being driven out of cities as apartments are let on AirBnB.

AirBnB is not the myth they would like us to believe, someone letting out a room occasionally, or maybe their home when they go away. It is apartments being bought, often whole apartment blocks, tenants evicted, or forced out by high rents. These are the people complaining, who are losing money, who are now trying to offload their properties onto the market.

AirBnB hosts would be operating illegally (nothing new there). Cyprus is in lockdown, hotels not allowed to open. Athens in lockdown, need a permit to go out, which has to be applied for.

EasyJet and other airlines grounded.

Airlines have to refund within seven days, tour companies within fourteen days. Why do AirBnB think they are the exception? Once again shows this sector must be regulated.

AirBnB greed, greedy hosts.

If AirBnB fails, excellent news. It is destroying cities with unregulated lets, driving tenants out of city centres.

With the country in lockdown, police and politicians and NHS staff are pleading with people to stay home, not visit the countryside, coastal resorts, police roadblocks in place, AirBnB is encouraging flouting of the lockdown by offering lets in the very places encouraged not to visit.

Hywel Williams a North Wales MP has called on AirBnB to “identify and delete” any home owners found advertising properties on their site as “Covid-19 retreats”.

Plaid Cymru’s Hywel Williams claims the online platform was guilty of “inexplicable and reckless inaction” after some holiday homes were offered up as safe bolt holes from the coronavirus outbreak sweeping the UK.

The Arfon MP says a number of properties across Snowdonia are still listed on AirBnB as available to rent ahead of the Easter weekend – and almost two weeks after the Government introduced laws to put the UK into lockdown in a bid to reduce the spread of Covid-19.

There were also reports of homes being let to tourists via AirBnB in Denbighshire and Anglesey.

There should be no bailout of AirBnB properties. Any rescue package would be to make the properties available to homeless, then let as social housing.

AirBnB is a zombie company kept alive on unsustainable debt. It has followed the route of too many zombie companies, hype to artificially inflate the value, vulture capitalists pour in money to inflate still further, then dump on the stock market for unsuspecting mugs to buy shares before the company is found to be worthless. AirBnB has been found out before it could dump on the stock market.

Contrast with FairBnB, which not only works with the local community, supports projects in the local community.

Cyprus hotels not open until end of season?

April 8, 2020

Comments by Head of the Paphos branch of the Cyprus Hotels Association (Pasyxe) Thanos Michaelides that hotels in Cyprus will open any time soon is a classic example of how out of touch and clueless hoteliers in Cyprus, as always incredibly short sighted, no ability to think long term.

Tourist sector has been on the decline for years, attracts the dregs of the tourist industry, drives away the quality tourists, all-inclusive brings in the dregs of the tourist industry, drives away quality tourists, little money flows into the local economy.

Tourists sector is more than a few greedy shortsighted hoteliers, it is bars, restaurants, coffee shops, water sports, car hire, boat trips, all of which have seen a dramatic loss of income in recent years thanks to all-inclusive hotels.

The opportunity should be taken, which was not taken when Thomas Cook collapsed, to restructure the tourist sector. Focus on quality, fewer tourists, quality tourists, end all-inclusive hotels which bring in the dregs of the tourist industry with little money flowing into the local economy, tour companies no more than 20% of bookings, with payment made in full at end of every month.

Reliant upon two countries, over reliance.

UK will be in lockdown until at least end of May. FCO advice on no foreign travel indefinite. No one has any money. Consumer confidence at record low. Airlines grounded, government not inclined to bailout, strong public opposition to bailout. Stelios Haji-Ioannou has warned easyJet will run out of money by August.

Russia in lockdown, EU borders closed.

Before anything happens, before any influx of tourists, Cyprus would have to come out of lockdown and be coronavirus free for at least a month.

Europe and US are current epicentres of covid-19. Tuesday, UK recorded highest daily mortality, 786 covid-19 deaths, total in excess of 6000. And that is only deaths recorded in hospitals, the actual number estimated NOS to be 70% higher.

The earliest Cyprus open to visitors would be end of season.

If Cyprus open to visitors, would have to be slowly, slowly, screening at airports, means to quarantine, hotels only 50% capacity maximum, strict enforcement of social distancing within hotels, dining, sunbeds spaced well apart, hotels where packed in like sardines on sunbeds not permitted to open, screening of everyone every time they enter a hotel, saunas, gyms, massage not open, moot point if pools open, if open, strict enforcement on numbers in the pool, showering on entering and leaving the pool, sunbeds cleaned every evening.

How do we get from lockdown, not allowed out, social distancing, keep at least 2 metres apart, no association with other than ones own household, avoid public transport, to travel through a busy airport, packed in like sardines for four hours in a confined place breathe in the shared air, packed like sardines in the hotel grounds?

At least two airlines, BA and an American airline the cabin crew have tested positive for covid-19.

The turn around of easyJet on landing with the crew tasked with a quick tidy of the plane is not sufficient to decontaminate the plane. Cyprus needs to have in place an enforced decontamination regime, with heavy penalty if fail to comply. All aircraft decontaminated on landing before can take on board passengers.

Insurance is essential, and a legal requirement if travelling within EU.

Many insurance companies have pulled travel insurance, others have excluded covid-19 cover and hiked the price.

Would Cyprus authorities be offering free insurance cover? And if they did, locals would have a legitimate argument, why not us, why are we not covered?

Airlines are grounded. Lufthansa is to permanently decommission more than 40 of its aircraft and axe its Germanwings low-cost arm, warning it will take years for the airline industry to return to its pre-coronavirus peak in passenger numbers.

FCO travel advice, no overseas travel indefinite.

UK lockdown likely to last into May.

Hoteliers need to get their act together and live in the real world, look long term, not always short term fast buck.

A start would be to offer regulars special deals for end of this year year and for next year.

It will not be return to business as usual, but nor should it be.

We have a larger crisis looming, Climate Emergency.

 

Cyprus finance minister economy will shrink by five percent

April 3, 2020

… there will be a recession and GDP could contract by about 5 per cent. — Cyprus Finance Minister Constantinos Petrides

Cyprus Finance Minister Constantinos Petrides has opened himself up to ridicule by claiming Cyprus economy will shrink by about five per cent.

If we look at European countries in lockdown, with most sectors shut down, economies will shrink by far more than five percent.

Only five percent with total collapse of Cyprus tourist industry?

Or is this a tacit admission that the only beneficiaries of the tourist sector were a handful of hoteliers and the foreign tour companies?

Before coronavirus crisis Cyprus tourist industry was close to collapse, all-inclusive hotels bringing in the dregs of the tourist industry, quality tourists driven away, with little money flowing into the local economy.

One only had to walk the streets and observe the empty bars and restaurants and coffee shops.

EasyJet has grounded its fleet. British Airways suspended its operation at Gatwick.

Tui was in debt to the tune of 2 billion euros before the coronavirus pandemic.

UK has said it will not bailout out the airline industry. A petition before UK Parliament is calling upon the government to not bailout the industry, instead transition to a Green New Deal.

Airlines and tour company tui are dragging their feet to pay compensation for cancelled flights and holidays. Trying to palm clients off with worthless vouchers.

Why have hotels on the front page of their websites no coronavirus information? Why are they taking bookings when not likely to be open, when Cyprus in lockdown, airports closed?

The rare exception Sunrise hotels:

Important Announcement for COVID-19
In accordance with the new measures taken by the Cyprus Government, all Sunrise Hotels will be closed until 30/04/2020.
For direct bookings we are offering the flexibility to amend the travel dates without any cancellation fee. For further information or assistance please contact us at: reservations@sunrise.com.cy.
For other bookings made through Tour Operators or Travel Agents, please contact them for alternative solutions.

When Thomas Cook collapsed, the opportunity was not taken to restructure the tourist industry. Far from grasping the opportunity the collapse of Thomas Cook offered, the worst of all possible worlds, tui was allowed to grab a greater share of the market, bad for hoteliers, bad for tourists.

The opportunity must not be lost this time around.

The focus must be on fewer tourists, quality tourists.

Improve quality everywhere, bars, restaurants, coffee shops, hotels.

Shut down the noisy bars that attract the dregs of the tourist industry.

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.

Grecian Park and Crystal Springs set high standards, few hotels come anywhere near.

Outlaw all-inclusive hotels that are killing the local economy.

Restrict tour operator bookings to less than 20% of bookings, encourage direct bookings. Tour operators forced to settle their accounts at the end of every month.

Reliance on euro bonds is a non-starter as has already been vetoed by Germany and Holland. I would refer to critical comment by Yanis Varoufakis.

Recommendations for the short term.

Furlough staff as in UK with government covering 80% of wage, with a cap of 2,500 euros per month.

A similar scheme for the self employed, 80% of average earning over last three years.

Grants and soft loans to small businesses, but with strings attached, quality has to improve.

For hotels, only to groups of five hotels or less. No bailout of large chains.

No bailout for corporate chains.

In China, one man with covid-19 travelling on a bus, infected nine fellow passengers.

Now imagine on a plane with one person with covid-19, passing through a busy airport, then getting on public transport.

Ever travelled on the packed-in-like-sardines 101/102 local bus that runs Paralimni – Protaras – Ayia Napa? Now imagine one person on that bus with covid-19.

Until such time that Cyprus has temperature screening at airports, facilities to detain, test, quarantine, temperature screening of everyone every time they enter a hotel, cannot even contemplate opening Cyprus to tourists. And even then only for hotels, not apartments.

In absence of such measures why are hotels taking bookings for as early as Easter? And these bookings cannot be from within the country as Cyprus is in lockdown.

EU has closed its borders for the foreseeable future.

No Russians, no one from outside of EU.

Countries have also closed their borders.

Israel closed its borders weeks ago, Russia has closed its borders with strict self-isolating and heavy fines if venture out.

As always, Cyprus grasping at straws rather than doing what it takes, hard graft and addressing systemic problems within the tourist industry.

EU will come to the rescue, Brits will come to the rescue, Russians will come to the rescue.

Latest was, Chinese dirty money will come to the rescue.

With Chinese tourists it overlooks one very simple fact, Chinese tourists are cultural tourists, hence Athens, Oxford, Cambridge. Low life bars in Cyprus,  somehow I think not.

FCO advice, do not travel overseas. Lockdown in UK for six months.

Speaking on Channel 4 News, former WHO Director-General Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland has said that she expects coronavirus crisis to last at least 18 months, until such time as a vaccine is available.

Is Cyprus foolish enough to open its borders and risk many covid-19 deaths?

One advantage of being an island, easy to control entry to the country.

Europe the epicentre of coronavirus.

Spain and Italy the death toll exceeds that of China. UK, slow to act, daily mortality rate is fast approaching that of Spain, Russia not far behind.

Cyprus would have to be very slow to open its borders to visitors from Europe. Temperature screening at airports, with facilities to isolate, trace and quarantine. Only hotels open. Temperature screen of everyone each and every time they enter the hotel. Hotels restricted to maximum of half capacity, gyms, saunas, massage not open, social distancing, dining well spaced apart, same true of sunbeds. Moot point if pools open. If open, strict limit on numbers in the pool, strict enforcement of shower before and after use of the pool. Sunbeds thoroughly cleaned every evening. Hotels where clients packed in like sardines on sunbeds, not permitted to open.

Any hotel where cases of coronavirus, quarantined for a month.

Larnaca, minimum of 50% of the sunbeds removed from the beach.

Oh and not forgetting, oil and gas will come to the rescue, conveniently ignoring oil at $10 a barrel and Climate Emergency will destroy Cyprus tourist industry, too hot, rising sea levels and storms will wash away beaches and flood Larnaca.

Covid-19 is not the only crisis, the other is Climate Emergency.

We cannot return to businesses as usual.


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