Wish you were here -TRNC tourism Master Plan

wish listThe Prime Minister of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) said on Tuesday that tourism investments in TRNC would make a significant contribution to both the country’s economy and its promotion in the international arena.

Delivering a speech at a meeting held in Istanbul on the occasion of Turkey’s declaring 2011 as “TRNC Year”, Turkish Cypriot Prime Minister Irsen Kucuk said his country desired to receive annually 1.1 million tourists in the next 5 years and 2 million visitors by the year 2023.”

I don’t wish to be a killjoy, but what actions are being taken to fulfill this “wish” ? I wish I was rich, doesn’t make me rich. I wish I was happy, doesn’t make me happy. It’s a good start to have a goal to aim for, but if the plan behind it stops at building yet more concrete bunkers for tourists that never arrive, then I’m afraid the quote may turn into “I wish I hadn’t said that!”

Cyprus Today reports that the “New Airline” is about to go head to head with the flight prices into Larnaca; vowing to be competitive. I recall CTA making this boast several years ago and then blaming the world for it’s failure due to the uneconomic transit stop in Turkey. Interestingly enough, the Cyprus Airways are using much the same arguments for the giddying finacial abyss that they are facing. €60 million deficit caused by the inabilty to overfly turkish airspace. I’m no navigator, but I fail to see why they need to overfly Turkey to get to Larnaca.

So, how come the new Partner (Turkish Airlines) in the “New Airline” is now all of the sudden prepared to offer discount prices to get to Ercan? I deliberately don’t name it by the way, as I’m confused as to what it is going to be called; “Serendipidy”, or “Never Come Again”? Further sugggestions on a pre-paid post card to the editor please.

Recent searches of Turkish Airline prices are showing that for a flight in July from Germany the price is around €630 per passenger and the equivalent Lufthansa price into Larnaca is running at around €260, as I write. Why should Turkey, which itself spends millions on subsidising the tourist industry, want to divert paying clientèle to the TRNC? The logic defies me. I can fly to Antalya from Germany for as little as €230 in this period. €539 gets me a flight from Germany plus the inter city (ICE) to the airport and back plus the benefit of a week in a 5* Hotel with an ultra all inclusive holiday in the Lara Beach area or in Side or Alanya. I recall paying about that for 10 days in the TRNC in a hotel in Karaoanolglu with a superb breakfast offer (three olives, 1 half a tomato, 2 slices of Hellim, a bit of bread and a single portion of jam.) The bathrooms were at best squalid and the mildew was only outdone by the smell of the drains. Still I’ve heard that this is happening even in the newest of the TRNC’s 5* offerings, so I didn’t get a “unique” deal. If anyone feels this offer is too good to miss, contact me, I’ll pass on the address and contact details. Oh by the way all transfer costs at both ends are your responsibility.

Does the Prime Minister mean with his statement, “tourist investments,” that there is to be a concious effort to make the place attractive? Litter free? Transparent pricing? Or are we talking nepotism again? Financial support for my cousins’ travel agencies, new roadside posters? I see the RoC are agressively marketing Cyprus in the German Media with prime time TV adverts on the main channels just before the News. Are TRNC going to follow this? Or are they going to waste the funds on overpaying state employees for non-existent jobs? Think locally, spend locally.

In the global economy a mini state with the equivalent population of Basildon has about the same challenge that Basildon would have in attracting 2 million paying guests a year. At least in Basildon you know what an article costs before you go into the shop, you know the law is applied equally to all and above all; I think on balance that Basildon possibly has a better chance of success. As I said at the beginning I don’t wish to appear to be a killjoy. The expression think globally act locally springs to mind.

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