Yiannis Karousos is a young and progressive mayor of the most visited city in Cyprus. Agya Napa is well-known among the European, Russian and Chinese tourists. Blue flagged resorts attract more and more investments from all over the world.
Talking about the new Agya Napa Marina. Is it going to operate this year?
The harbour will be open this year, we hope by October. The next year the first tower will be ready and in 2021 the marina will be completed and fully operational. Our guests will have benefits from the new project starting this year. The main goal of the marina construction is to make mix use buildings — tourist, commercial and residential.
Do you know where are the boats and yachts are going to reach Agya Napa shores to visit the new Marina?
By this time, we only know that 25% of all guests to the new marina will be held Cypriot passports. And, of course, we are waiting for visitors from all over the world. It will be possible to dock a boat or a yacht, go ashore and have a quality time in the hotels, shops, restaurants.
Being the main investor does Naguib Sawiris hopes to attract more wealthy people to the project?
Yes, one of the richest persons in the world Mr Sawiris is the main investor in this project. The best part of him taking part in the new marina construction is that he doesn’t want to build another marina, he wants to create the best marina of the Mediterranean. He added more investments during the design developments, he added two twisted twin towers in the project and wants it to be perfect.
Are you competing with the United Arab Emirates Palm islands?
Maybe (smiles). Actually having one of the world significant investors in our region brings reliability and creditability to Agiya Napa and Cyprus all in all. It is a huge foundation stone to the future of the island. We want to offer quality to tourists and visitors and so we also started working also on the surroundings of the marina. By 2030 we would like to create the most cosmopolitan and high-qualified resort of the Mediterranean.
Agiya Napa nowadays has bad times during winter season. Will your project help to maintain life in the region all the year round?
Yes, that is one of the important part of our plan. A territory with open shops, boutiques, restaurants, cafes and apartments will bring more and more people to our active population throughout a year. Together with the private university of Agya Napa (that is also on its way) the new marina will expand tourist season.
You have also signed contracts with the Chinese Jimchang Group for the construction of the luxury Sun City hotel in the marina area. Why do you think they have so much interest in this region?
There are many investors coming to this region as Naguib Sawiris opened wuch opportunities with his projects and investments — from Saudi Arabia, Africa, Cyprus and China is one of them. We know that Cyprus, especially Agya Napa, is a part of the global investment strategy of the Chinese government. They are more than welcome to the region.
We have also made an agreement with Gouanchzhou city, the third largest in China, on mutual tourist, economic and cultural relations. I believe that the climate of Cyprus and environment among the locals is very attractive for the investors from all over the world. Agyia Napa offers a complete experience to live, to visit and to invest.
The Environmental Authority stated the construction could bring a negative impact on the population of the Great Sandplover. Have you settled down this issue?
First of all, the marina follows the strictest environmental guidelines for its construction. When the area was chosen it was not characterised as Nature 2000 (a network of nature protection areas in the territory of the European Union). Only when the construction has started it was declared a protected one. But the damage has already been made. The investors however try to bring peace to the region and they are creating an underwater reef in another area of Agiya Napa which will help to bring the sealife to that area. In this case our main condition to the constructors was if there is a destruction in one place, invest to create and maintain an environmental area in another place in order to bring balance.
Paying attention to the public disputes, I should ask you about the Agya Napa amusement park accident? Will it be closed for the season?
We had a tragic accident and we hope the mother and her son will soon get better. The park was immediately shut down and we warned the owner it will be closed until the investigation ends. Only when we know who is responsible for this tragedy and we are sure everything is ok with the machines, only then it will have our resolution. By the way, the amusement park renews a permit and all necessary certificates from a well-known German company TÜV. It is an independent auditor and it controls such parks all over the world.
At the beginning of this year you personally awarded 11 tourists who have visited Agya Napa region for more than 20 times in a lifetime.
We do it every year. Agyia Napa is popular among Scandinavians, Russians, British, Lebanese. We were proud to make them Ambassadors of the Agiya Napa tourism and I personally gave our visitors medals for loving and choosing our resorts for so many years. That is the least we could do to thank them.
Mr Mayor, what is your tourist goal for 2019 season?
This year will be a difficult one as the resorts of Turkey and Egypt will be open for visiting. Furthermore Cyprus is under Brexit influence and we don’t know what to expect. During the high season Agiya Napa is fully booked. Even if we want, we can not accommodate more tourists. We have about 50 000 hotel rooms excluding the airbnb system and 4 000 rooms are now under construction. Our main goal is to bring better quality to those who choose our region.
Name your favourite site in Agya Napa.
A difficult question (laughs). I have so many on my mind. On the second thought, it is the beach by the harbour because it is the place where I grew up, where we spent every day with my parents and relatives and where my family restaurant is.