A Turkish Slice of Tourism for 2013

A Turkish slice of tourism for 2013

THE END of another year is almost upon us and Northern Cyprus will be welcoming in 2013 with warm smiles and the heartfelt hospitality of the local people, not to mention firework extravaganzas. And if official predictions from the Ministry for Economy & Tourism are proven accurate, it will be a celebratory start to a promising year ahead for the North’s tourist industry.

Tou, in fact, in fact, crucial to the economy of the TRNC (Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus) and officials are hoping to significantly increase visitor figures over the coming years. Thanks to recent investment there are also plans to accommodate visitors with brand new luxury builds. It is accepted, of course, the mere mention of development may send the more discerning traveller running for the hills in the North East’s Karpas Peninsula. However, within those hills lie not just some of the North’s abundant beauty but also the beauty behind the commercially veiled plans for tourism.

Not only are there more stringent building regulations in the Turkish-Cypriot North, there are large remote and scarcely populated areas, predominantly because the terrain does not lend itself to the type of development that has battered the Greek south. The North East ‘panhandle’ part of the island is also protected. And herein lies the key to the North’s future success in striking the right balance between tourism and the local economy on the one hand, and what the modern day tourist actually wants.

Most destinations trade on the sun, sea and sand expectations of the old school holidaymaker, but the North offers both this plus some. It boasts beautiful landscapes, from white sandy beaches to mountainous backdrops. It is home to countless archaeological and architectural gems, from romantic castle ruins to horseshoe harbours. It embraces cultural and historical diversity, from ancient Byzantine heritage to modern day customs. Add to the pot a taste of (not just) Turkish cuisine, the warmth of the Turkish-Cypriot locals and of course the great weather and we have the makings of a 2013 winner.

But what really makes the North stand a Five-Finger mountain height above other Mediterranean destinations is the diverse type of holiday it can offer. The growth in tourism is able to thrive not from concrete commercialised development but from the natural wonders of the North.

It is an industry trading on niche eco-holidays for walkers and cyclists (the mountain trails are breathtaking); horse-riders and donkey fanatics (it is commonplace to see wild donkeys wandering along a dusty road); wildflower enthusiasts (the fauna and flora blanket fields in the Spring); birdwatchers and history buffs, (watching resident and migratory birds soar above castle turrets is the stuff of fairytales)…

…as well as offering getaways for people in need of a pamper (luxury is available and not as pricey as you might think); people seeking peace and privacy (intimate hideaways can be found for you); singles with get up and go or couples who wanna get wed (the photos will be sooo picturesque); and folk who just wanna go slow (the pace of life is that laid back its almost horizontal).

In a homegrown pistachio nutshell, metaphorically speaking, the North has the ability to preserve its inherent beauty and reputation as an unspoilt haven whilst promoting a very healthy holiday trade for the local economy. That’s surely worth a 2013 welcome with a bang (the Turkish-Cypriots aren’t all fauna and flora, they know how to party too)…  and make sure its accompanied by a New Year resolution to try a big fat Greek? c’mon, Turkish slice of Cyprus.