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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 20 August 2016
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 20 AUGUST 2016 23 NEWS Cyprus’ mountain resorts claim their own share of the rise in tourism THALIA NEOPHYTOU Unlike their colleagues from the coastal areas of Cyprus, hoteliers of the mountain resorts are not fully satisfied with the occupancy rate of their hotels, in a year of record tourist arrivals on the island. Hotel occupancy in mountain resorts by mid-August is considered to be sluggish, while during the peak period between 14 -19 August it is expected to be satisfactory. Increased traffic these days is not considered good enough to compensate for the low occupancy or the losses of the previous months, hoteliers maintain. PHOTO: SNFCC. and the NLG, offering spectacular views of the sea, the Acropolis, the whole park, and the surrounding neighborhoods. The park features a total of 1,450 trees, 280,000 shrubs, ground covering plants and grasses endemic to the Mediterranean. The energy canopy is a mar- vel of construction and engineering. The canopy measures 100x100m, is supported by 30 metal columns, which weigh a total of 4,700 tons, and is covered by 5,700 photovoltaic panels, producing 2GWh of electrical energy per year. Its highest point is at 46 metres. The canopy's geometry and white hue create the optical illusion of a very light structure suspended above the SNFCC. With a length of 400m, width of 30m and depth of 70cm at the edges and up to 140cm in its center, the canal forms a continuous surface of water. It represents the city's symbolic reconnection to the sea, and also functions as a recipient of rainwater, ensuring the site's flood protection. It is supplied with seawater, which is filtered and then returns to the sea in a continuous flow. A listing of events taking place in August is available on the SNFCC's website www.SNFCC.org and the SNF's website, www.SNF.org As president of the Commission of Mountain Resorts of the Cyprus Hotels Association Andreas Mandalas has told CNA, these days until August 14 hotel occupancy in mountain resorts is around 60 per cent and is expected to reach 100 per cent in the period 14-19 August and fall again close to 50 per cent by the end of August. Occupancy rates were much lower in July and especially during the period February to May, when hotels operated even at a loss. The lack of adequate transportation to and from the island’s airports and coastal areas, the non-inclusion of mountain resorts in the packages of major tour operators and unfair competition from nonlicensed hospitality venues are the main problems raised by hoteliers of the mountain areas. Around 98 per cent of the tourists who choose mountain resorts are Cypriots. A large proportion of domestic tourism in the summer benefits from a plan of subsidised holidays by the Ministry of Labour. Praising the Minister of Labour Zeta Aimilianidou for this plan, Mandalas expressed the hope that it will be expanded from a fiveday duration to seven days, and apply from early July until the end of September. While tourism in Cyprus is experiencing one of its best years and hotels in the coastal areas are fully booked, hoteliers in the mountain areas seem to be fighting for survival, according to Mandalas. Hotels in the mountain areas are trying to survive, especially after Cyprus’ economic crisis that peaked in 2013, and some of them have already closed, he said, noting that sometimes they feel that the battle is unfair. As he explained, while the hoteliers must comply with all the requirements of the state and have all the relevant licenses, there are those who operate illegally, converting apartments and houses into rented rooms without being bothered by anyone. He also complained that this illegality is boosted by online booking portals, which agree to promote any accommodation without any consideration as to its legal status. Another problem he notes is the use of accommodation in the mountain resorts, maintained by trade unions for their members, by persons who are not members, which Curium (Kourion in local language) Greco-Roman ancient amphitheatre. PHOTO: ANTONIS ZAVOGIANNIS/DREAMSTIME. creates unfair competition, since these vacation homes do not have the same obligations as those the hoteliers have to comply with. Hoteliers of the mountain areas are trying to highlight the natural beauty, cultural heritage, bicycle paths and the paths of nature that can become an attraction for foreign tourists who come to Cyprus with specific travel packages and spend their time almost exclusively in coastal areas. As Andreas Mandalas pointed out, the main problem is transportation from the two airports of Pafos, on the west, and Larnaca, on the south, as well as from the coastal cities of Cyprus. The hoteliers have discussed the issue with the Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO) that promised to find a way to subsidise some bus routes in order to help with the situation. He also said that they are trying to include mountain resorts in the organised packages at least for two days as part of a broader package of 10 to 14 days. For this purpose, as he said, there are discussions with CTO. They also try to upgrade their hotels to reach the level of the hotels in coastal towns. The CTO will launch a plan in September to provide incentives for upgrading the hotels. The hoteliers of the mountain areas await the government’s decision on the authorisation of a casino-resort in Cyprus, and will then request licence for mini-casinos that would enhance tourism in the region. Hotels in Famagusta district reach full capacity FANITSA ZANNETOU Cyprus is witnessing one of its best tourist seasons this year, according to officials monitoring the Famagusta district, where hotels have reached full capacity. Head of the Famagusta Tourism Development and Promotion Company, Lakis Avraamides, told CNA that this year "our region is having one of the best tourist seasons". "However, this is a panCyprian phenomenon, as Cyprus is doing really well." He added that all hotels are fully booked and have reached full capacity. Avraamides also said that according to all indications, the season will remain busy until mid October. "Our aim, he went on, "is to continue the tourist season until mid-November and for the next tourist season to start in March 2017, covering a span of eight to nine months." The tourist flow in the Famagusta district comes from Russia, Scandinavian countries, Switzerland, Austria, the UK, Germany and this year, an increase from Middle Eastern countries. Avraamides also said that despite the improved relations between Russia and Turkey, Russians will continue to flow to the island. "Even when relations be- tween Russia and Turkey were at their height and around two million tourists were visiting Turkey, Cyprus still had a great number of (Russian) visitors," he said, adding that this will probably continue. Avraamides said that what he believes will be affected by the improved Russia-Turkey relations is the preparation of Russian football clubs in Cyprus. "We believe that the Russian football clubs will prefer Turkey since conditions there for preparation purposes are better than in Cyprus." In conclusion, he urged the Cyprus Tourism Organisation to prepare a program that will sponsor the Russian teams in an effort to become a more attractive destination. Cyprus’ Wine Festival is now on The Cyprus Wine Festival, which takes place every year in the southern coastal town of Limassol, will open its gates on 25 August and run until 4 September. The event, which attracts thousands of locals and tourists, is held at the grounds of the municipal gardens in Limassol. Today, the Festival’s mascot, ‘Vrakas’, representing a Cypriot man dressed in traditional Cypriot men's baggy trousers (called vraka in Greek), was placed at the entrance of the gardens to welcome all visitors to the festival. Major wineries as well as regional ones will be participating in the festival, offering visitors a great variety of wines. Stands with traditional food, delicacies and souvenirs will also be on offer. The Wine Festival features dozens of other events such as traditional dances, concerts, theatre performances, storytelling, magic shows, etc. This year, the festival’s program is being circulated in the Russian language as well as in Greek and English. Given the rise in the number of tourists visiting Cyprus this summer, the Municipality of Limassol expects more visitors at the Wine Festival. The festival will be opened on 25 August by Minister of Energy, Commerce, Industry and Tourism Yiorgos Lakkotrypis, followed by a varied cultural program including Cypriot traditional dances and songs.
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