Research Center
Cyprus Economy

LEISURE: Cyprus marine tourism needs to push the boat out

11 August, 2018

 As yachting tourism is growing in the region, Cyprus has work to do if it desires to be a high-quality marine destination in the Eastern Mediterranean.

A lack of a coherent policy regarding the development of marinas and promotion of the island as a yachting destination are the main reasons that Cyprus is lagging behind.

Marine tourism is a growth market in Mediterranean countries because of their climate and ideal sailing winds, natural small bays and the variety of cultures of nearby countries.  As a niche leisure activity, yacht tourism can provide a substantial contribution to the local economy.

Although Cyprus cannot offer yachters an equivalent of the Greek island-hopping experience, Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO) official Maro Kazepi feels that: “Cyprus as a Mediterranean Island has the potential and advantages to enable itself to develop its Yachting Tourism and position itself as an attractive, new Eastern Mediterranean Island Destination, on the Yachting Map”.

According to Kazepi, the CTO considers yacht tourism an important and an integral part of the Cyprus tourism product and encourages the enrichment of the yachting infrastructure with more marinas and the cooperation of all relevant public and private sector stakeholders.

She said that yacht chartering is a trendy lifestyle experience for tourists and locals.  Cyprus can also host luxury Superyachts and attract high-end clientele. 

The island boasts a Blue Flag Marina [Limassol Marina] and 62 Blue Flag Beaches in 19 coastal areas. “Cyprus, due to its mild climate is an ideal destination of all year-round yachting. The island’s geographic location and proximity to other yachting destinations such as the Greek Islands and other surrounding coastal countries, make it quite attractive,” said Kazepi. 

Farah Shammas, the Managing Director of the St. Raphael Resort and Marina told the Financial Mirror that although Cyprus has all the advantages to developing its marine tourism it is not at the desired level.

“Ideally the island would have established marinas and the necessary infrastructure a few decades ago to be able to accommodate yachters,” said Shammas.

The Managing Director of the resort said that work needs to be done on infrastructure and building permission procedures recalling her grandfather’s experience while trying to get the St. Raphael Marina off the ground in 1986.

Shammas’ grandfather was faced with red tape obstacles and spent years in negotiations before being able to put the island’s first private marina into operation. Shammas said that the authorities should have acted proactively a long time ago so that Cyprus would now be on the yachting map.

Although Cyprus does not have any islands of its own, it could develop yachting destinations within, that is yachters could hop from a marina in Latchi to Limassol or Ayia Napa.

“We are not yet a yachting destination, but we are moving slowly towards that direction,” said Shammas She believes that with the proper development plan, in 3-5 years Cyprus will be much closer to succeeding in this goal.

Existing Marinas and Facilities

Cyprus should take advantage of the island’s location and proximity to other yachting destinations and offer a choice of marinas and leisure harbours. It currently has only three in operation with only two of them in a position to claim a spot among the Med’s yachting destinations.

Limassol Marina is able to host up to 930 vessels, with the possibility of harbouring up to 115 mega yachts with a length no longer than 115 metres.

It also hosts a series of restaurants, cafes and other facilities that cater for high-end tourists. According to the Ministry of Commerce and Tourism, Limassol marina occupancy is currently at 50%.

St. Raphael Marina also situated on the Limassol coast can host up to 237 yachts of a length no longer than 30 metres and its occupancy is currently at 97%.

The third marina is located in Larnaca and has a 450-vessel capacity, with its occupancy currently at 50%.

However, Larnaca Marina, at present, is not deemed an attraction for yachters as it does not have the range of facilities to cater for them. It is mostly occupied by fishing vessels.

A luxury marina at Ayia Napa Marina is under construction and is expected to be up and running by the end of May 2019.

The project is expected to upgrade the tourist product of the region significantly drawing in wealthy tourists.

Stavros Caramondanis, CEO of M.M. Makronisos Marina Ltd, the company developing and managing the marina, told the Financial Mirror there is a gap in the region for a modern luxury marina complex.

“We have worked endlessly for many years to design and present a development that will not only offer exclusive properties, excellent facilities and services, but most importantly respect the environment and enhance the natural beauty of the area.”

The Ayia Napa Marina will have a capacity of 600 vessels and be able to host mega-yachts with a length up to 60 metres.

Another marina is to be built in the area of the Ayios Nikolaos fishing shelter in Protaras which is to have a capacity of 300 vessels.

A more ambitious project is that of the Paphos Marina aiming for a capacity of 1000 vessels and big yachts.

The future

Kazepi said the key factors for its success include the establishment of relationships and networks with important nautical tourism stakeholders in potential target markets and the increase of the awareness of Cyprus as a yachting destination through promotional activities.

She agreed the CTO acknowledged the potential of yachting as an important special interest tourism sector and contributed to its promotion in various ways.

Kazepi said that Cyprus is seeking cooperation with its neighbours to promote marine tourism in the wider region.

“Cyprus and Israel have been cooperating for the last few years in the organisation of the various Sailing Events. Including the annual Cyprus-Israel Regatta which this year will take place in September.”