Several weeks ago The Cyprus Mail published an article warning of the threat to tourism of islandwide complacency. Those who cater for visitors to the rock seem to spend more time complaining about what the government should be doing to combat falling numbers than getting off their kafeneion seats and sorting the problem out for themselves. The time for such nannying by the Cyprus Tourism Organisation should be a thing of the past. Even the most out of the way villages now have a generation of well-educated (often in Northern European Universities and Colleges) and vibrant youngsters full of bright ideas. A lot of them have more than enough experience in the old ways to take advantage of their education. So, what’s the problem?
The younger generation find themselves in a bit of a catch22 situation. On the one hand the very organisation which helped their parents – and grandparents, in some cases – to benefit from the enormous influx of tourists from the seventies on hampers the entrepreneurialism vital to reversing the decline by bogging them down with unnecessary red tape and regulations. And, ironically, the old codgers from the kafeneion, after a good few years of falling revenues are reluctant to invest in new methods or infrastructure.
There is light at the end of the tunnel, though. Even in the last year new projects started by young businessmen and women have proven very popular with islanders and tourists alike. And how refreshing for the tourists to have the opportunity to mix with Cypriots when so many find themselves pampered from day one by economic refugees from the former communist bloc. With any luck the aforementioned codgers will do what they are best at and copy the new wave but by then the crest might be somewhere else.
The Mail interviewed a clutch of tourists, of differing nationalities, at the end of their visits. The French were least likely to return, nearly half the Germans would give the island another chance with only the Brits breaking through the halfway barrier. Complaints came down to price, quality and service.
All nationalities objected to the amount of litter dumped everywhere. As I walked the promenade this morning I witnessed a well dressed man pick up a piece of paper, read it and as he passed a clearly marked bin deposit it…on the pavement.