By Lucie Robson
It’s perhaps bad timing that Easter almost always coincides with the early part of the tourist season.
While lawmakers impose regulations about holiday opening hours and discuss the rights of shop workers, the rights of shop owners and the rights of the holiday in general, the ‘rights’ of one group of people never seems to come into the equation: tourists, and specifically, self-catering tourists.
Aren’t these the ones that the tourist sector is supposed to love because they aren’t all-inclusive?
When the same thing happens around Christmas, it can be a nuisance for locals but, owing to the season and the lower number of visitors at that time of year, the rules about opening hours do not have so much of an impact on the people who contribute to one of the island’s key economic sectors.
This year, what are termed as ‘general shops’, which includes supermarkets, have to close on Good Friday and Easter Saturday by 6pm, which is fair enough. On Easter Sunday and Monday though, they are obliged to close.
What boggles me though is that specialty shops selling clothing and shoes for example can open right after the liturgy on Easter Sunday and also open their doors on Monday with staff, quite rightly, being paid double time for working on a holiday.
‘Specialist shops’ sounds suspiciously like shops in tourist areas. This means tourists can stock up on shoes, tack and clothing while they’re strolling around in the harbour, but can forget about the likes of bread, milk and oranges.
We’ve all been tourists. The only things you’re interested in checking when you arrive on holiday is when the sites are open, if there is a Happy Hour or wine tasting nearby and how quickly you can get to the nearest beach.
Scrutinising the local laws on holiday opening hours is not something you have on your list of things to do once you gratefully dump your cases in your bedroom.
Actually, one of the first things I think is ‘where is the nearest supermarket’ and ‘let’s head there after we’ve had a breather’.
Wrongly or rightly, unless they’re in a very isolated spot, visitors expect to find a minimum of one supermarket open for business.
Tourists start hitting Cyprus in March. With no disrespect intended to the Easter holiday and with full respect for the economy, shouldn’t grocery stores in tourist areas at least remain open?