With the close of 2022 and the fresh start of 2023, Mr Dinos Lefkaritis - Chairman of Larnaka Tourism Board (LTB), gives his insights on the evolution of tourism in Larnaka region.
The ethos for the tourism board’s actions last year revolved around changes within the tourism industry, which Mr Lefkaritis explains are driven by the Covid-19 pandemic, a growing awareness regarding the environment and sustainability, and technological advances.
As such, many of LTB’s projects and initiatives in 2022 embraced this ‘new way of thinking’, as Mr Lefkaritis elaborates: “Tourism is one of the fastest changing industries and as such, we must always look forward and rethink the old practices in order to continually develop and promote our product. This means placing the environment and people at the heart of our efforts and creating more sustainable experiences in combination with up-to-date digital practices for the new, eco-conscious, tech-savvy traveler.
Indeed, LTB has pioneered in offering a series of virtual experiences - such as online maps and tours - thus eliminating the requirement for printing consumables, and simultaneously creating a modern, sustainable way of enjoying the region’s culture, history and arts.
Mr Lefkaritis says that the virtual umbrella of projects has been met with resounding success, not only by visitors, but also within the industry. In April 2022, LTB won three awards at the ‘Cyprus Tourism Awards 2021’ for its virtual experiences; a Gold for the ‘Larnaka Storytelling Statues’; Bronze for the ‘Ancient Port of Kition Virtual Reconstruction’ video, and Silver for the ‘Larnaka Virtual Museums’ platform.
In terms of sustainability, the region’s unique and cherished traditions – predominantly in the rural and mountainous communities – have always been a priority. Branded identities such as the ‘Rural Larnaka Honey Villages’ and the ‘Larnaka Art Workshops Neighbourhood’ ensure that the handicrafts and heritage of the region are given equal tourism status alongside the classic sun, sand sea holiday.
As Mr Lefkaritis points out: “The fruit of our efforts to promote the sustainable traditions of our region is further evidenced by Larnaka’s inclusion as one of just three candidate cities for the ‘European Destination of Excellence 2023’ title, and Lefkara village’s awarding of ‘Best Tourism Villages’ status by the UN World Tourism Organisation in 2022, among other industry recognition.”
The key to the implementation and success of such projects is the excellent cooperation the tourism board has forged with other stakeholders.
“All the bodies involved in tourism in Larnaka region collectively contribute to the upgrading of our tourism product. From the local authorities, hotels, and tour operators, to the rural communities and artisans preserving the region’s traditional handicrafts and local products, we all share a common sustainability goal that is reflected in our actions across the board.”
As for 2023, LTB’s action plan continues to build on the foundation of the last few years. Included are Enriching & Greening Larnaka’s Beaches - an annual programme that upgrades organised coasts; improvement of the nature trails at Larnaka Salt Lake and in Choirokoitia; the creation of bee parks at the Rural Larnaka Honey Villages; further enrichment of the artificial reef; new Larnaka Virtual Museums and virtual reconstructions of archaeological sites; museum upgrades, and self-guided cultural tours, along with many other projects.
“The prospects for tourism in Larnaka region are very encouraging for 2023”, says the Chairman. “The new initiatives in the action plan show how LTB is adapting and moving with the times, and that locals, visitors and investors are all responding positively to this way of ‘rethinking’ tourism.”