The ministry of tourism’s announcement that the process to open a tender to secure the services of a specialised consultant to examine the proposal of establishing a combined marina and cruise ship docking facility in Kissonerga in Paphos, with no mention of an environmental impact study, is being queried by the Cyprus Greens.

“They have announced the development of infrastructure for the reception of cruise ships without the required environmental impact study,” a statement from the party said.

In addition, they highlighted the timing of the deputy minister to proceed with the process, noting it raises ‘logical’ questions.

“Certainly the timing of the announcement is no coincidence, as they (the ministry) are likely to believe that there will be no reaction. The economic crisis that is looming creates the conditions for the acceptance of any ‘development’ project. But they are mistaken,” the Greens noted.

Initially, the proposal to cater for cruise ships was earmarked for Kato Paphos harbour, however it was then suggested to combine the facility with a proposed marina in Kissonerga as the antiquities department said the development would have a negative impact on the archaeological environment of the area.

The design for a marina in Potima (Kissonerga) will accommodate 1,000 boats, which is a ‘huge’ scale for the area, and the development that will create several problems with its operation, they noted.

“It is time to change economic policies and not put all of the importance on tourism. It will take years for Cyprus to recover and perhaps numbers of visitors will never reach the millions again,” a spokesman for the Paphos Greens told the Cyprus Mail.

He added that the Greens were not enemies of progress in tourism but that matters needed to be reassessed.

However, Kissonerga community leader George Stylianou disagreed and said that the announcement was a move in the right direction but that any real progress was far off and that it was too early for an environmental impact study.

“At present, the authorities are considering the terms of the tender, it is just a first step. They will decide who will be employed as a consultant and they will decide if the idea of having a combined marina and cruise ship docking facility is viable or not.”

He added that they will take many factors into consideration, such as if the depth of the sea is suitable and the impact the development would have on the coastline.

“An environmental impact study is very important and has to be carried out, and I am sure will be part of the process at a later stage.”

He added that ways to minimise the impact of such a project on the environment were imperative.

Stylianou noted that cruise tourism – coronavirus notwithstanding – was a booming business, which could be an enormous added income for Cyprus and comes with added benefits.

“Cruise passengers that get a taste of Cyprus and like it will come and stay in hotels for longer, they may invest, purchase a house and so on,” he said.

The Greens added that EVE (Paphos chamber of commerce) and other Paphos bodies have expressed their satisfaction with the promotion of “growth”.

“As the Greens, we ask for more and immediate information regarding the data that led the ministry of tourism to this decision, for example, we want to know if there has been a previous environmental impact assessment study for the project in its new form. Let our environment finally stop being destroyed on the altar of so-called developments.”