Why are there so few tourists in the TRNC?

Perhaps the simple answer is that the government do not want foreigners in the country? Be they Turks, British, Martians or whatever, in fact they seem not to even want returning Turkish Cypriots. So what would happen to the country if it becomes insular and only the Turkish Cypriots who never left and the Turkish mainlanders remain? Well, that is another story! What I saw earlier this week was a prime example of why the tourist industry is almost beyond reviving and my fantasy scenario might come true.

We took friends to Lambousa to see the ancient tombs and the Roman Fish Tanks. Where or what is Lambousa? If you drive too quickly passing the sign at the end of the road to the closed Mare Monte Hotel in Alsancak you will miss the miniscule sign. Then at the end of the road there is an official brown sign saying Lambousa pointing across the fields. OK, there is a rutted dirt track that unless you knew where you were going you would give it a miss. The sign does not say it is 0.5km or 2 miles, nothing. Lambousa was a thriving community in Roman Times, and before, and I wonder what lies buried around the area close to the beach.

Parking the cars above the beach, the track was washed away in the heavy rains in early 2010. The rain uncovered what could be tombs or storage tanks. I am no expert, however they are obviously many hundreds of years old. At the time a friend and I contacted Ian Sheppard at Cyprus Today who ran the story complete with pictures and he contacted the antiquities dept. They said they would fence them off to prevent damage and they would investigate. As is the norm here, nothing apparently happened, except builders, rubble and assorted rubbish have been dumped in the “tombs”.

Then after a further couple of hundreds of yards walking you come to the Roman Fish Tanks. Here you will find a sign saying exactly that, no explanation!!! Having wandered around and undertaken our own investigation we think we have figured how these tanks operated. So if we can do it what would a university professor and a small squad of students come up with? They could then erect an explanatory sign and visitors would be far more interested. Also if this information is included in a tourist guide book it would interest and hopefully attract who knows how many people to come and visit? On top of this if somebody employed a couple of informed people they could keep the site clean and offer additional help to visitors. I know a dozen “foreigners” who would jump at the chance to first help save Cyprus history and then to relate to visitors the story of Cyprus ancient history.

So, on to the ancient rock tombs: these, as far as I remember, are in excess of 3,000 years old and what does the sign say – just “Rock Tombs”! Our friends, who live part of the year in TRNC, have in 5 years never even heard of this site were amazed and disgusted at the same time. Amazed at this small piece of ancient history and disgusted that the government, and primarily the Tourism Minister, do nothing to promote this site. This is just one example of this kind of neglect, how many other similar sites are around the country that many thousands would flock here to visit? Yes we have Salamis, Vouni, Soli, for example, but even they are very poorly set up for informative tourism.

The government appears to think that building hideous 5 star resort casinos is what the country needs to attract tourists. They are so wrong; the people who stay there invariable spend nothing outside the resort and so the money in the main goes to foreign investors.

With the nonsense of subsidizing foreign investors to build resorts, the farce of trying to revive an airline that, in my opinion, hasn’t got a chance of succeeding and many other crazy schemes, the government claim they are bankrupt. Yes, bankrupt of logical thinking. If they would only swallow their pride and seek experienced, outside help then in a couple of years, maybe, tourists and even history seeking travellers would return. As it is, with tourism geared almost entirely to casinos and night clubs plus all the property scandals sending messages to the rest of the world then productive tourism in TRNC is dead.

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