Problems of Protaras Tourist area (Newspaper AGON - 3 May 1998)
It is with regret that I observe that my letter dating 1.14.1995 that was addressed to the Mayor and the Commissioners was ignored.
The theme of the specific letter was the reorganization of the Protaras tourist area at a rationale basis. Even sadder is the fact that all my predictions were verified.
1. First and most important is the fact that the tourist planning regarding the area is far from being the proper one. All works necessary for the development of the area end up at Paralimni! As I’ve all ready pointed out, I’m not against the parallel development of both Paralimni and Protaras, still what really happens is that all money received from Protaras are turned into developmental projects at Paralimni. What should actually happen is that, firstly, several infrastructure works that would stabilize the tourist product should be built at Protaras, and following, a fraction of the earnings should be invested at Paralimni. In other words, you have to invest at something in order to enjoy the fruits of your investment.
2. The lack of a local Tourism Committee.
3. Nothing was done towards the solving of the problem of the lack of parking spots. This causes many side effects, with most important one, the annoyance of both the visitors and the residents of the area.
4. Another problem that causes annoyance is that of the units running without the proper licensing. The major side effects cause by that are two: First, the very existence of the specific units is disturbing, because of the loud noise that their functioning entails. Secondly, because of the lack of tourist police, all incidences that may occur at the late hours of the night could turn into serious ones. Needles to say what that causes to the rest of the visitors as well as the residents.
5. A problem that has recently aroused is the excretory one. Because of the works that take place at the whole area, the condition of the streets impermissible. Once more, we establish the lack of any programming what so ever. Obviously, nobody even bothered to think that the visitors will not come to see the works that take place at the streets of the area, not to mention the traffic caused. It is inevitable that the tourist agents won’t risk their credibility in order to bring tourists to a place that is full of dust, noises and where the traffic is out of control. The whole issue is a source of questioning for the professionals of the area, which would in all ways welcome a finishing of the project prior to the starting of the new season.
6. Of course, a mere quotation of the problems in no way can be considered helpful. Thus, we will state-once more-the propositions we have regarding the specific problems.
7. First, and most important, we believe that o local Tourist Committee should be established, tomorrow, if possible. Such a Committee, if staffed by some of the very qualified professionals that activate at our area would literally change the face and the essence of the tourist product of the area.
8. The establishment of tourist police is the other measure that must be immediately examined. This will be empowered to control the proper function of the various units, intervene at disputes, etc.
9. Third comes the maping out of an integrated strategic regarding the features of the tourism we want, taking into account the advantages and disadvantages of the area. The Tourism Committee all ready proposed can have a decisive role at the compilation and implementation of the specific strategy.
10. Another very important element is the infrastructure works that will give rise to the level of the tourists that visit our area. Although it may seem as of minor importance when collate to the maping of a complete policy towards the solving of the problems of the area, we will refer to it analytically. Protaras has practically no infrastructure what so ever, apart from the commercial aspect, to function as a tourist resort. What we have to offer is the sea and the sun. We relied upon to what the nature had to offer, doing nothing what so ever but exploiting it. Nothing was done to show our visitors the culture of our area. Thus it must not come as a surprise that at a recent gallop most tourists stated their preference to Pafos for their vacations. People there benefit from the experience of the rest to make the proper works that would bring forth the culture of our island, but also added elements of the present. A fine example of the latter is the golf course which attracts people from all over the island. Other works that can serve at the purpose of attracting tourists are a football stadium, a marina, a tennis court, a swimming pool. And we must not forget about the adequate parking spots. Of course, these come second, considering the fact that there is not a beach that is properly equipped to host firstly the tourists and secondly the residents! Other works that would pinpoint the folkloric elements of our area are a museum to which things from the traditional life of the area would be on display and a replica of a traditional neighborhood, to which various demonstrations would take place. Also, the summer is ideal for the organization of theatrical performances, operas, concerts and other spectacles of this kind. These must be hosted at an open amphitheater. After all, the weather not just allows the outdoor spectacles, it imposes it! Things are expected to worsen with the imminent entry of Cyprus at the European Union. The visitors from the E.U. countries are even more cool customers. Against that what will we offer? Once more, the sea and sun. As everybody can understand, this is unacceptable.
11. A truly radical proposal, which can change everything, not just at our area, but at the whole island, is the development of the alternative tourism forms. The most “conventional” type can be considered the winter tourism. This requires the offer of various indoor spectacles capable of attracting people that would leave the warmth of their houses to visit a foreign place. After all, the weather of our island, even in winter, is not exclusionary. The specific measure will allow the faster reimbursement of the loans that were necessary for the set up of the various units.
Concluding my letter, I would like to make some comments upon the people of the Paralimni municipality and the false practices they follow for the promotion of our area abroad. For years I have wondered what is it that they promote whenever somebody, most often the mayor, one of the administrative employees or even a council member shows at one of the major exhibitions that take place at England, Russia, Germany, etc. In other words, what are the unique features that the “trade” at the specific exhibitions? Not to mention the fact that the specific people that attend at the exhibitions have no knowledge what so ever regarding tourism and the problems it faces, apart from an empirical one, deriving from the contact with the professionals of the area. Of course, the issue of the proper promotion of the “tourist product” of Protaras requires a complete analysis on its own, thus we will revert.