Paphos Municipality on a Mission to Change Old Town Image

15/01/2020

 

Paphos municipality is working hard to breathe new life and more visitors into the city centre with a wide range of new initiatives, including the restoration and reuse of old buildings.

Municipal officer Doxa Economidou-Bardatold the Sunday Mail that the municipality is focusing on changing the ‘character’ of the city centre and concerted efforts are underway to ensure that Paphos is a ‘smart city in every way’. This will ensure that it attracts residents, visitors from abroad and from other areas of Cyprus, she said.

“The municipality is encouraging people to open up new businesses in the centre, particularly young entrepreneurs. This will help to give life to the old town centre. It is our mission to change the area and we have already witnessed steps forwards, particularly with the infrastructure.”

To this end, the municipality is encouraging the renovation and use of old properties in the area which are both Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot owned.

“Where the ministry of the interior is responsible for these buildings and they ask the opinion of the municipality about a new business being opened, we are giving a very positive response. These buildings are beautiful and where they being renovated and restored, it is changing the character of the area,” she said.

On Friday the tender closed for offers open to businesses wishing to take on one of the old town’s renovated buildings, which was most recently used as a gastronomy centre. Found in the heart of the old town in the municipal market area, the successful business will have the use of the building, which is around 160m2, for 12 years.

The building in Paphos old town that has been put up for tender

The municipality wants to establish something similar to ‘Muse’, a successful cafe bar in another area of the town. The winning tender will be announced later on in January.

“New businesses have been popping up in the last few years and diversification and innovation is now key,” Economidou-Bardasaid.

The local tourism board and the head of the Friends of Paphos old town association both agree.

“The local authorities need to encourage diversification and different usage of the buildings, not just for cafes, restaurants and bars. If we look to some other old towns in resorts outside Cyprus, this will be of benefit,” a spokesman of the local tourism board said.

One of the biggest problems facing Paphos is its small population which is why diversification should ensure that there are things for locals, travellers and foreign visitors to do and enjoy, he added.

But although Paphos is ‘trying its best’, not enough is being done by all sides involved and the old town is still dead during the daytime, said Kyriakos Kyriakou of Friends of Paphos old town.

“More needs to be done to attract a larger percentage of the millions of tourists into the old town that are visiting the island and Paphos each year,” he said. Kyriakou owns three shops in the area and has had businesses in the old town for more than 30 years.

He agreed that the 50,000 or so Paphos residents are already spoilt for choice with destinations including, the harbour, Ta Bania and Paphos Mall, as well as the old town. He said that more must be done to encourage people to visit time and again. For example a direct bus link to the old town from Kato Paphos is a must, he said.

“We are just making our wounds look good, like plastic surgery. Yes, the old town looks much better, but a plan has not been made so that we all work together and understand our ‘disease’.”

He said that specifically, a marketing plan for the entire area needs to be undertaken to establish it as a ‘destination’.

Ongoing renovation and other works including roads being dug up and the creation of parking places has been ongoing since 2015, which has discouraged many visitors he said.

“Five years of work is far too long. People get fed up when they can’t use the roads or find somewhere to park,” he said.

He also believes the meat and vegetable market – once a focal point of the area – should be reestablished as it would entice people back. This is an idea supported by many residents and local businesses.

“A Saturday farmers’ market for example would mean people can buy local produce, and tourists would be able to meet the locals, which they would appreciate.”

The current municipal market could still do with improving, not least some of the goods on sale, the tourism spokesman added.

“There are still many cheap or fake goods on sale here from China and other countries. Some of these are promoted as authentic Cypriot products. This sort of thing is not helping to communicate to our clients that they can have an authentic experience and buy authentic products at the market.”

He added that the municipality is trying hard to attract and establish educational institutes and universities in Paphos, which will help to increase the local population.

“Establishing Paphos as a smart city will also contribute to the changes needed, and we need to establish more innovative companies and enterprises.”

A number ofactions arebeing implemented in the framework of the European programme ‘Development of smart city applications in the municipalities of Cyprus, Crete and North Aegean’. The ‘Integrated Business Plan’ for the transformation of Paphos into a “smart city” has already been developed under the programme.The municipality of Paphos participates as a lead partner.


 


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