By Paula Manoli-Gray
Who can believe that August is already past the halfway mark, and that soon summer 2017 will be over?
I have been known to bemoan the fact that August is a ‘dead month’; not for tourists to Larnaca, but for locals left behind to face a slew of closed services whilst everyone else takes their annual summer holidays!
It can be incredibly frustrating to find that everything slows down to a snail’s pace, and that ‘it’s August’ becomes a standard excuse for nothing getting done.
But, this year, I changed my approach and attitude towards August and embraced its empty roads and ‘closed for holidays’ signs, grateful that there is a balance in our town.
The reason for this change of heart is the increased number of visitors flocking to humble Larnaca.
Apparently, we are having our best year yet in terms of tourist numbers, and hotels are said to be at capacity until at least September.
This is great news for those whose living relies on the tourism industry, and is also well-deserved recognition for the region itself, which has many merits that make it an ideal holiday destination.
The Larnaka Tourism Board has worked exceptionally hard to carve out an identity for the region, based on its unique characteristics, whilst ensuring it remains authentic, and its efforts have paid off.
I do confess though, that when I heard that we were in for a bumper tourist season, I had visions of overcrowding and chaos. And whilst I was pleased to see Larnaca gaining popularity, I feared it would start to resemble certain other areas of the island with a ‘touristy-resort’ feel, and a shift to trying to cater for visitors in ways that sacrifice its essence.
And yet, Larnaca does not feel stretched to its limits as some of the island’s other coastal areas and resorts do at this time of year. You can still find a spot on the beach without having to overlap your towel with someone else’s; the roads are not congested, and the streets are not overflowing with an increased amount of waste.
Maybe I am wrong, but I can only surmise that this continued feeling and luxury of breathing space is due to the perfect symmetry of people coming in and others going out.
And so, I decided that it is actually a blessing that locals’ mass exodus is at the same time as the visitors start to arrive!
But embracing ‘Empty August’ is not a change of heart that is as simple as shifting one’s mindset…
It still takes planning and preparation if you are to stubbornly stay put – and try to continue going about your everyday life – whilst everyone else has switched to holiday mode.
Unfortunately, I failed again this year, assuming that certain sectors would at least stagger their holiday period. But I have learnt some valuable lessons for next year about who or what stays open, and what I should and shouldn’t expect to achieve in August (servicing cars, making appointments and the like).
Perhaps one of the lessons should be ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’, but the slower pace, empty roads and quiet supermarkets all combine to offer their own special form of relaxation – and one that I am growing to love!