20 years ago I published my first article about the tourist area of Protaras. Since then I have written articles on a regular basis, mainly on topics concerning the Hotel and Tourism Industry which I have served as an instructor, author and researcher for the past 25 years.
This article focuses once more on the Prοtaras area once again. The reason for this is the rapid development which has transformed the area into one of the most attractive holiday resorts of our island, but which has also brought with it problems which must be solved as soon as possible before we are faced with an unwanted situation.
I cite below the most important problems that appeared in the area in 1988 and still exist:
1. All investments, e.g. RESTAURANTS, PUBS, SOUVENIR SHOPS, ETC ARE NOT MADE WITH RATIONAL PLANNING and are still being undertaken thoughtlessly in Protaras because the appropriate tourist infrastructure for the future does not exist. I regret to observe that all investments have been made for commercial purposes without taking into account the needs and requirements of tourist flows to Protaras. The ultimate aim of investments in the area and the emphasis given has been to secure the greatest possible profits in the first year (that is not an investment) without forecasting the effects of tourism in the long-term. We have not realised how sensitive the tourism industry is and the special treatment our tourism needs. We have not told ourselves that our goal IS OUR CUSTOMERS AND TRY TO FIND WAYS TO SERVE THEM CORRECTLY. I am in favour of those investments that are made on the basis of the right planning for the development of the area, and this includes the following elements: MARKET RESEARCH, PLANNING, ANALYSIS OF COMPETITORS, MARKET ANALYSIS – DEMOGRAPHIC DATA AND ECONOMIC ANALYSIS. This must be taken very seriously into account by the local authorities and relevant services in order to find a solution to this problem and not repeat the mistakes made in other tourist areas of Cyprus (e.g. Ayia Napa).
2. Licences are granted to operate restaurants and pubs to people who have no connection with the hotel professions. The problems that ensue from this are:
Α) High food and drink prices (no correct pricing) and
Β) No quality food and bar service to customers
As a people we are well known in Europe for our good service and hospitality and these important factors are what attract tourists to the island. That is why we must not lose our good service and hospitality and look at tourism merely as a source of easy profit. It is imperative that special seminars be held in order to tackle this problem and the CTO is called upon to take a serious view of the matter.
3. The rent that a lot of business units are obliged to pay is very high, beyond any justification. The aftereffect of that is the high prices that the specific units put to their products, in order to cover the specific expense.
4. The lack of sufficient parking spaces results in a large number of problems on our roads, such as high noise and nuisance levels by drivers and motorcyclists causing annoyance to our visitors.
5. The lack of public spaces for our tourists in the area’s roads, with the result that the tourists enter the various hotels and restaurants.
6. The unlicensed operation of night clubs until the early hours, the minor incidents that arise, which are not settled because of the lack of a tourist police. The establishment of a tourist police force would create order in the tourist area and give a sense of security to both locals and visitors. The tourist police would not only control the closing hours of the night clubs, the noise pollution from the motorcycles and pubs, the minor incidents that occur at night, but also check on the operating licenses of the restaurants and bars that are granted to unqualified persons resulting in low standards of service and profiteering. For these reasons it is imperative that a tourist police force be established in order to tackle the situation in the free areas of Famagusta.
7. The creation of new infrastructures for the development of special forms of tourism (e.g. agrotourism, cultural tourism, sports tourism, and marine and health tourism) will help to further upgrade the area as a quality tourist destination. These special forms of tourism will bring about double benefits, since on the one hand we will attract high income and education tourists and on the other, the problem of seasonality that causes so much hardship every year will be alleviated. The creation of new infrastructures for the development of special forms of tourism will improve the quality not only of our tourist product but also of the lives of the local residents.
8. Training and education of human resources. Another important role in upgrading our tourism services is played by the training and education of the people who work or are involved with tourism (e.g. hotel owners and managers, hotel, restaurant and pub workers, taxi owners etc). I stress once again and will repeat this as often as necessary: without specialised professionals, correct planning and the right professional and tourist conscience and awareness we can achieve nothing.
9. Local Tourism Committee. The lack of a Local Tourism Committee in the Protaras area. It is an imperative need that such a committee be set up with experts in the field (researcher, economist, town planner, statistician, architect, civil engineer, members of the local hoteliers’ and hotel managers’ committee, local authorities, etc) in order to solve the problems of the area, with the ultimate aim of upgrading the quality of our tourist product. I believe there are sufficient people with enough experience in the hotel sector who could help to achieve the goals of Paralimni Municipality. This committee must be made up of people without any party-political or personal interests.
10. Paralimni Municipality’s tourism policy as regards the development of the Protaras area is not what it should be (since I began writing articles in 1988 I have seen no work of infrastructure, apart from the rebuilding of the main hotel avenue)*. I regret to say, since tourism is the main source of income for the municipality, that the local authority is wrong to invest most of the large sums of money brought by the tourist area in development projects in the Paralimni community. I am not against the development of Paralimni, but certain important works are required. These include a modern sports centre, which must include a basketball court, a football pitch, tennis courts, an indoor pool, an amphitheatre for artistic and cultural events, a museum of folk tradition, a folk neighbourhood displaying the Cypriot culture, a modern tourist beach and so much more.
11. All of us in the Protaras area boast of QUALITY TOURISM. I really wonder, with the problems we now face and the basic lack of infrastructure and works, how we imagine we can create a quality tourist destination. Without wishing to criticise anyone I believe that we all bear some responsibility and must face the truth. Sun, sea and hospitality (which is gradually dying out) are not enough to satisfy the needs and demands of QUALITY TOURISM. I wonder, has Protaras anything to offer besides sun, sea and a little hospitality, so that we can boast of QUALITY TOURISM? Where is the Cypriot element in the whole of the area? Protaras has become an advertising billboard: menus on the pavements, restaurant owners soliciting for custom, badly constructed buildings, illegal alterations to shops and restaurants, and the most “attractive” sight in Protaras is the large number of estate agents selling tourist villas and apartments. This is a very serious issue that must be dealt with by the local authorities through correct planning.
12. Finally, I feel I must sound the alarm regarding the Protaras area. I believe all the above must be the subject of serious, in depth and systematic study, in order to avoid what happened in Spain in the past. Of course the Spanish tourist product has greatly improved. When are we going to improve our product???
* I wish to strongly criticise all the Famagusta Members of the House Famagusta for having at no time shown the least interest in the Protaras tourist area.