The recent agreement between Hermes airports and Ryan Air for the opening of their 50th operational base in Europe has to be looked at as both a blessing and a curse. We can count the blessings as follows.-
1. Ryan air will be committed to invest a substantial amount of money in order for the operational base to become viable.
2. Ryan Air will set tourist targets and when met this means a significant increase in tourist traffic to Cyprus. One can look at the success of Ryan Airs partnership with Spanish airports such as Girona and Reus.
3. Ryan Air is not into just one specific market such as the bucket shop package traveller, they are for the first time targeting the free independent traveller (FIT).
Like all blessings we should receive them gratefully, but at the same time we have to managing them correctly. Ryan Air, flying in plane loads of multiple blessings to Pafos means we have to look seriously at what we, as one half of the partnership can offer in return. According to the press officer of Pafos Hoteliers Association Mr. Evripides Loizides he summed up the current dilemma that is dancing around the minds of clear minded Pafos based businesses. ‘Ryan Air has arrived, but its now time we started to get really serious as a tourist destination’.
To date the Pafos tourist scene is viewed with pessimism by those in the business and there is a genuine fear that sectors within the market are not going to be entirely responsive to the demands made by this new wave of travellers.
A complete change of attitude has to start from the top down with our elected officials now having to waken up to the fact that with the arrival of independent tourists we have to quite simply ‘clean up our act’ and instead of the usual indifference and apathy, our municipal and community leaders have to get into the mind set of sustainability rather than ‘fast attainability.
We must also address the expected increase in traffic going to and from the airport, with there being a more noticeable demand for car rentals, taxi hire, mini buses etc, modes of transport which will carry more tourists but in much smaller groups. Pessimism is rife as to the anticipated increase in accident rates as our less than civil taxi drivers continue to follow the ‘old ways’ of unbridled rudeness mixed with a good dose of road rage. Deep pessimism also abounds when it comes to those restaurants who will no doubt continue their blinkered short term thinking by offering their usual serving of ‘customer scare’ rather than the anticipated ‘customer care’.
What’s actually needed is for us to all to be re educated into what exactly the art of tourism really is, how we must now be ready to play a new and effective role, rather than re-enact our constipated, lack lustre, short term mind set formed over the past disastrous decade.
The opportunity offered to us by claiming Pafos as a European Capital of Culture in 2017 coupled with the Ryan Air arrival are ‘good sparks’ which should be igniting the flame of a ‘healthy tourism fire’. The pessimist in me however worries that we may have the making of such a fire but sadly no –one has brought alone the matches.
The Ryan Air agreement could be compared to morphine in that this is an opiate which doubles as both a form of pain relief and as an addictive drug which, if taken to excess results in a slow death. Our sole dependency on Ryan Air can also be viewed as dangerous if we become too addicted, as we have experienced to our cost when we depend so much on tour operators.
Surely the avowed aim to the tourist sector by the state and Cyprus Airports has to be the practice of healthy independence with no more reliance on addictive practises so we can at long last transform Pafos into an attractive sustainable tourist destination which thrives year in year out without recourse to entering into any unholy, inappropriate, or short term relationships.