In search of foreign financiers for Larnaca Marina
by Stelios Ksouris and Andreas Polykarpou
The start of Larnaca marina’s construction remains on the drawing board it seems, even though the project is expected to play a leading role in the city’s progress and boost the economy of the whole country. An insular country which survives on tourism alone must set the development of its future tourist services as a priority. ForCyprus, tourism is key to escaping the growing financial crisis. The Larnaca marina, a vital project for the greater area, shall radically change the situation and makeCyprusa competitive tourist destination, capable of offering various kinds of recreational activities in the future meeting the demand for nautical tourism. .
However, it seems this is not enough to get ahead with the construction of the marina and the modernisation of the existing infrastructure and services delivered in this field. Procrastination encumbers not only completion, but even getting started. While neighbouring countries have evolved their tourist services, our country stumbles over procedural issues and suffers with the poor state of the national economy. In the occupied territory of the illegitimate political formation inNorthern Cyprusthere is already a marina which takes advantage of these new forms of tourism. What is the response of the Greek Cypriot-European side? Mr. Akis Lefkaritis, one of the prime advocates for the construction of the project and head of the consortium assigned with the construction of the marina claimed there has been a major effort over the last 10 years which has faced procedural and technical obstacles resulting in the works still not having been commenced. According to Mr. Lefkaritis, the expected timeframe for completion of the project is around three years and after this it will be possible for the marina to host 450 yachts. This will boostCyprus’ tourist growth and strengthen the national economy.
Opposition MP Tassos Mitsopoulos highlighted the need for the construction of this mooring project and stated that the boost is expected to be massive thanks to the enrichment of tourist services that are currently out-of-date in the yachting world. He stated that we also need to be competitive towards occupiedCyprus, where they already have a marina offering services in this field. There will be huge demand from wealthy foreigners, bringing in foreign exchange which will cause a rise in the local market and in the area’s standard of living through the development of retail trade. Upon completion of the project and operation of the marina, shop and restaurant owners will get a financial lifeline. Mr Mitsopoulos emphasised the fact that the project will provide new jobs in all sectors, thus providing a solution to the problem of unemployment. Not only will there be jobs directly related to the project, but also in the wider economy. What will differentiate the Larnaca marina from that of Zygi is that the former will not be built with fishing criteria in mind but rather yachting and it will deliver services for 1000 vessels. In Zygi, priority is given to fishermen because the fund was provided by the European Union for the construction of a fishing shelter. Therefore, it is clear that a strictly yachting project will provide "tourist-oriented" yachting services for a large number of vessels.
In response to our question regarding procrastination in this matter, the opposition MP stated that because of the financial crisis, the banks cannot finance the project. More specifically, after the haircut on Greek debt, the consortium in charge of the project is seeking financing from abroad in order to continue its efforts to complete it. This is the main reason for the procrastination, since negotiations for the project have been successful we were told. However, the agreement between the government and the consortium that will commence the works is yet to be signed.
According to Mr. Lefkaritis, as an island,Cyprusshould meet the required standards for the attraction of tourists.
The marina will really help boost tourism, as the economic recession will be overcome thanks to foreign exchange that will start coming in for the government. Besides, yachting tourism has better financial abilities and major players in the global economy will be visiting our country. This “quality” strengthening of tourism will tackle its own negative aspects, maintaining a high level of culture. Even from this point of view, the Larnaca marina will promote cultural activity in the greater area.
So what will the building and modernisation of the Larnaca marina mean for Cyprus? Is it another tourism project? Is it just a project for the promotion and delivery of yachting services? An achievement in the progress of our tourist services? A sample of modernisation of our country? A change in the economy through the influx of foreign exchange and the development of the area? The answer to all these questions remains positive. The answer to the burning question about when the projects are due to begin, is still pending…
Larnaca Marina – An in-depth investigation by the Cyprus Yachting reporter on the upgrade of the Larnaca Marina and project timetables.
By Valentini Stavrou
Time has left obvious scars on Larnaca marina and unfortunately the scenery does not resemble that of marinas abroad. With no important investments, the marina has ended up a place full of rubbish, stray cats and rotten hulls. It is a vulgar mess for the eyes of locals and tourists, while many of the lessees describe the whole infrastructure of the marina as disgraceful; the sanitary areas are always dirty, washing machines are very old, parking spaces are inadequate and, probably most importantly, the limited number of mooring berths cannot accommodate many vessels. This makes prospective lessees turn to other, usually private, marinas abroad. On numerous occasions prospective boat buyers decided not to purchase boats because there were no docking spaces available in the marina.
The situation has come to a head over the last few years, since three finger piers have already collapsed, whilst the rest of them are for the main part ready to collapse. Little signs which were placed a few months ago, forbid access to some finger piers and a lot of boat owners have taken additional measures in case their jetty collapses. Coastal engineers who have dived in the area reported that central jetties face serious safety problems and must be replaced immediately. Cyprus Yachting interviewed the marina manager Mr. Christos Petrides.
Q: Are restoration works about to begin at the marina?
C. Petrides: “The works at the marina are currently in two different stages. One is already advanced and a strategic investor, “Zenon Consurtium”, is going to invest in the integrated development of the Larnaca marina and port (A/N: “The Waterfront”). In the long term, the investment will cost almost a billion Euros. As you can imagine, lots of things will change. I hope that in about 10 years the marina will have a thousand docking spaces, whilst theport ofLarnaca will become a passengers’ port. Integrated development will be completed in three stages. In the first stage jetties and finger piers will be repaired and docking spaces will increase to 570.
Q: Some of the jetties have been entirely destroyed, what is your comment on this?
C. Petrides: It is true. Some of them are very old, perhaps even thirty years old. After studies carried out by a special coastal engineer, it became obvious that both the jetties and the finger piers are dangerous. Cyprus Tourism Organization (CTO) therefore decided to invest a lot of money in this. These jetties and finger piers will be replaced by floating ones. The project will be completed within 6 months and is going to cost 700,000 Euros. It is expected to begin mid-February, after the necessary procedures.
Q: Where will the boats that will be affected by the works be transferred to?
C. Petrides: This is a major problem. The management plan for the place of transfer of these boats is a problem we have faced for a long time. Clearly, not all boats affected by the project can be accommodated in the marina at the same time. We asked for help from Larnaca port and we estimate that around 10-15 boats remaining idle will be transferred there. We have also asked for help from Zygi port, which advertises a capacity of more than 1000 docking spaces. We made clear that the docking fees would be paid, but they refused. It is obvious that no one wants to help the Larnaca marina. Nevertheless, we have some thoughts on how we are going to deal with this matter. The project will be divided into two stages. We will start with the jetty where smaller vessels moor (A/N: those under30 feet long). Later on, we are going to deal with the large jetty, where things will be harder. Recently, an independent group of lessees was formed, with which we cooperate very well and I expect much from them. I believe that with their help, the management plan will be realised and we will move to the next stage. But the lessees need to understand that they will inevitably experience some inconvenience. Through smooth cooperation the project will be implemented with no further delays or inconvenience.
CTO has not invested much money over the last few years. Why was the marina neglected?
C. Petrides: I cannot answer this question. I took over the marina in 2010 and set some goals. They will probably be achieved, all of them. I would not like to criticise the organisation nor other colleagues. I care merely about the future and only look ahead.
I can understand, but I believe that if we learn from our mistakes we can plan more correct and appropriate strategies for the future.
C. Petrides: When speaking with members of the board and the general director of CTO, who also see the restoration of the marina in a positive way, it can be concluded that it has been difficult over the last few years to take a decision about investing in the marina, because it is likely to be sold to a private individual. This might not be a satisfying answer, but as I told you already, I only look ahead now.
Let us focus on the near future then. Will the marina be evacuated in mid-February so that restoration works can begin?
C. Petrides: We are going to start with the contractor who wins the bid and with the help of a project manager we will arrange meetings to decide the ways the offer will be implemented. We cannot remove 200 vessels at the same time, particularly when there is nowhere to take them to.
But everything happened very fast. As far as I know, the lessees received a letter asking them to take their boats out immediately.
C. Petrides: This was definitely not the best kind of letter to send or receive. However, I thought it was necessary to protect lessees’ safety, since the relevant studies clearly showed the damage to the infrastructure. Being in charge of the premises includes being responsible for the safety of the lessees and employees. It was and still is my duty to draw attention to any danger at the premises and order vessels and lessees to leave the marina if necessary. The pleasure boats you can see now, are docked at their owners’ own risk.
As an island, we must have modern marinas. These attract pleasure boats from neighbouring countries or sailors who sail around the world.
C. Petrides: The restoration and gradual integrated development of the marina and the port will financially boost both the city and the country in the future. The marina should have already been repaired. There is adequate demand, but not space. I am concerned by the fact that we no longer accommodate foreign boats. A few years ago, there were some foreign lessees. There is now demand fromIsrael andLebanon, but we have no spaces to give them.
As the future looks optimistic, we expect works at Larnaca Marina will soon start and bothCyprus’ nautical infrastructures and relevant tourist services will be further strengthened.
 “Ζenon Consortium” consists of the following companies: Bouygues Batiment International,Port ofAmsterdam, Lievense Consulting Engineers, Luis Group of Companies, Costa Crociere, Lacovou brothers, General Constructions Company, Petrolina, Marinaman, Scott Brownrigg.
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