Concerted efforts are underway by local business owners and authorities to encourage visitors to visit the recently upgraded Tala Square in the heart of the popular Paphos village.
Local councillor Cathi Delaney said that Tala, along with a number of other villages, is suffering from the fallout of uncertainty caused by Brexit, unfavourable exchange rates, an ageing population and all-inclusive holidays.
“Numbers of people visiting the square had dropped before the pedestrianisation works got underway and we are organising a number of upcoming events to encourage more locals and visitors to visit the village,” she said.
Delaney noted that the population of Tala, if all were there at the same time is around 4,000 although the number at any one time is around 1,500.
Tala is set in the hills above Paphos and has stunning and commanding views of the coastline, making it a popular choice for holiday home ownership, particularly with British expats.
Last year the village centre was revamped, which saw the square pedestrianised and modernised to create an attractive centre. The spruce up saw a colourfully lit water fountain and flower beds created in the square, new lighting installed and uniform pergolas added for businesses.
The second phase will include upgrading the network of roads around the square, levelling some and creating a one-way system, and will get underway this year. The two phase upgrading works will cost around €1.5 million, the project being funded 70 per cent by the government, with the Tala community board paying the remaining 30 per cent.
However, despite these improvements, the area still needs a concerted effort to encourage people back to the heart of the villages, Delaney said.
“The population of Tala is ageing, people might not go out as much and we are finding there are also increasing numbers of absentee owners for health, financial and other reasons, that no longer or less frequently visit their properties,” she said.
The councillor noted that following on from the huge success of the Christmas Square Affair last year, there will be another seasonal Square Affair on Friday, March 30. Snacks, drinks and food will be available from the various bars and restaurants.
The events are a collaboration with J & J Artworks Gallery, and Tala community council. The idea came from organiser, artist Joep Klinkenbijl and jewellery maker Johanna Bey, a Dutch expat couple living in the area, who are determined to encourage more people to visit the village.
“I was doing a similar sort of thing in villages in Holland. It is important to bring entertainment and to breathe life back into our village and I know similar actions could benefit other village too,” said Klinkenbijl.
Klinkenbijl said the square was once a buzzing area full of people but now it’s quiet. “The rebuild is so nice, and I know it’s possible to make our desired outcome a success,” he said.
The Dutch expat has encouraged restaurants and bars to take part in the upcoming event, to contribute to the cost and also to offer a special meal or deal on the day.
Klinkenbijl said a number of other monthly events are planned to include all sorts of music.