Cyprus towns step up efforts to become smarter
While Cyprus tourism is heading for a rough ride as connectivity takes a hit, the major towns are stepping up efforts to offer holidaymakers a more enjoyable experience by becoming smarter, environmentally friendlier and more accessible.
With financing from several European Union projects, Cyprus towns are moving forward with projects to enhance their tourism product while doing their bit to reduce CO2 emissions.
The overall aim of these projects is to improve the transport and tourism policies of EU destinations, by integrating strategies for sustainable mobility, accessibility and responsible travel with efficient & sustainable tourism development, for the transition to a low-carbon economy.
This is done through efficiency, resilience, multimodality, novel low-carbon transport systems, cycling & walking, with implementation innovations, policy learning and capacity building.
Paphos tourism board is taking part in a joint venture with cities in Portugal, Germany, Lithuania, Greece, Hungary and the UK to become smarter and more accessible to visitors by sharing and implementing best practises, under the label DESTI-SMART.
DESTI-SMART is a project addressing challenges for efficient sustainable tourism and at the same time promotion of a low-carbon economy.
Public, regional, local and transport authorities increasingly face such challenges, particularly at busy destinations with high tourism travel flows.
Talking to the Financial Mirror Paphos Tourism Board official Nicolas Tsifoutis, said that representatives of the board have just returned from the second meeting of the group at Germany’s Bremerhaven, where they discussed best practices to increase intermobility and accessibility for visitors while encouraging alternatives such as biking tourism.
During the group’s first meeting in Hastings, there was an introduction in how to make transportation systems smarter and friendlier to the environment.
Tsifoutis said each town will make a feasibility study regarding the introduction of busses powered on electricity generated by Renewable Energy Sources.
He said that Paphos is already looking into options while also preparing a smarter system of informing tourists and locals on the town’s connectivity.
“We are working on an information platform which users can access either at bus stations or through a phone application. The platform is to be designed to guide passengers, offering them route proposals for any destination.”
“We want holidaymakers to know how to get to Polis Chrysochous, where they can hop on one of the bikes stationed there and reach Akamas’ beaches.”
Tsifoutis said that, in cooperation with the municipality smart boards will inform passenger waiting at bus stops of the actual time their bus will arrive. “we hope to offer that through an application in the future.”
He added that the board in cooperation with local and central authorities is working on increasing accessibility to the region’s beaches for people with disabilities, with the state financing 70% of accessibility projects.
Walking and Cycling routes
Limassol Tourism Board is doing its bit to make the city environmentally friendlier and accessible to visitors and locals.
Limassol Tourism Board officer Fiorentina Poulli told the Financial Mirror that the town is participating in another EU project dubbed CIVITAS, aiming to address transportation sustainability issues and other environment-related challenges.
“We are sharing with our partners and implementing best practices to increase the use of urban public transport by tourists and locals, clamping down on CO2 emissions,” said Poulli.
She said the board is encouraging the use of public transport for those who would like to visit the countryside.
“We are currently looking into ways to encourage tourists to explore the region using economic and sustainable modes, such as bikes. We plan to combine this with increasing cycling routes while combining it with the introduction of thematic tourism activities.”
Limassol is looking to create new walking and cycling routes and is about to install some 40 smart signs at bus stops which are to inform passengers of routes and bus arrival times.
A smartphone application is available for travellers to use when arranging journeys on public transport. The same app contains information on the city’s tourist attractions.
The island’s capital is not far behind as Nicosia is also participating in an EU project to promote cultural and creative tourism strategies, with sustainability, innovations, policy implementation and capacity building for improved governance & structural change.
Nicosia Tourism Board is participating in the project with the general aim to gain experience and share ideas on public policy in practice, therefore improving strategies for ‘Creative Tourism’.
Larnaca’s Tourism Board is also taking action by working towards enhancing inter-mobility and accessibility for holidaymakers and locals with hearing and sight impediments.
“We are participating in an Erasmus + project which is to facilitate students and employees with sensory impairments participating in the Erasmus exchange programs,” said Larnaca’s Tourism Board press officer Nana Asmeni.
Asmeni, noted that Larnaca and cities from partner countries are venturing into uncharted territory as more or less nothing has been done to make cities friendlier to citizens with sensory disabilities in Europe.
“The programme will take-off with a meeting between representatives from partner cities in Greece, Portugal and Poland, which is to assess what each destination has to offer travellers with hearing and sight impediments.”