It’s April 2013, and we are being reminded again that sun, sea and sand will always be a major natural resource for Cyprus, at a time when oil and gas is the catchword for hoped wealth in an era of crushing national debt.
But after a brief, and iced coffee-assisted investigation by the Cyprus Daily Blog in Limassol this week, we found ample evidence that National Heritage resources are being neglected, when they are freely available to the Government as a means of selling hotel rooms, airline seats and guided tours to the incoming tourist masses.
So what do we mean by National Heritage? Well we are talking about ancient archaeological sites, museums, nature trails, religious sites and historical monuments. These locations provide culture specific interests that will attract a significant section of the regional and global travel markets if properly promoted, and if necessary, romanticized using media and advertising.
Wandering around various sites in Limassol, frappe in hand, we noted that Amathus archaeological site was more or less empty, save for a couple of roaming visitors and ourselves. The Amathus ancient coastal town, for those who are unaware, is a very impressive set of ruins with extensive documented and archaeologically-derived history. However, there are a set of major problems with the site which prevent it from making money for the state.
1. A set of ten licenses could be easily sold (say at 5000 Euros per year, each) to allow independent souvenir and retail sellers to rent clean, regulated and static pitches at the entrance way to the major archaeological site. This would promote small business in Limassol, and allow the monetisation of the archaeological site to provide 50,000 Euros in base annual revenue to the Government. If this practice was permitted at all major city-located archaeological sites on the tourist trail, then this could generate 2 or 3 million Euros of extra revenue for the Government per year, excluding the benefits of increased low-cost self-employment opportunities and tax paid from VAT.
2. The archaeological site itself should be made readily available for hire, so that concerts, outdoor conventions or public festivals can be held in the area in and around the scenic ancient town centre. This should be priced cheaply at 5000 Euros per day, allowing any major organisation to put such an event within its budget, and further increasing monetization of the site.
3. The Government itself should organise festivals inside the archaeological site to celebrate heritage, as Amathus is prominent and well known. A festival could include a barbecue, live music, conventions and exhibitions. This would allow the Government to sell catering and performance contracts for such events to allow organisations and companies to promote themselves to the public.
We suggest that Amathus ancient city is a good venue for promoting events that will give tourists and local consumers a reason to spend money in Limassol area through. We also argue that the site can be easily monetized through the selling of monthly pitch licenses to allow souvenir and refreshments retail. Although not a template for all national heritage sites, it is considered by us to be a good example.