About 50,000 of the tourists who visit Ayia Napa do not stay in hotels or tourist apartments, opting instead for luxury villas or even apartments in residential areas which are officially the permanent homes of Cypriots or non-Cypriots, says the resort’s mayor Yiannis Karousos.
He told philenews that over the past few years, this corresponds to 7% to 11% of total visitors. Indicative CTO figures suggest that islandwide, this category of visitors accounts for 10% of total arrivals.
Philenews said that owners of these houses or flats rent them out year round. Cypriots may move in with their parents while non-Cypriot Ayia Napa residents move back to their home country for a few months, particularly in the summer.
According to one case cited by Philenews, residents in a neighbourhood complained that a villa was being used to film a blue movie.
The site contacted the mayor who said that renting houses and flats in residential areas online or even through their travel agents, had started a few years ago but has risen dramatically in the past couple of years causing some complaints from residents in the area, as in the case of the filming of the blue movie.
He said that in other destinations which compete with Cyprus, the percentage of tourists who choose to stay in residential rather than in tourist areas was even larger.
He said this was because tourists wanted to get to know the real character of their destination, have a quieter stay and get a better price particularly for longer holidays.
Residential areas bordering on tourist areas are likely to see more tourists, adding that property owners could not be prohibited from renting their property if they so wanted, the mayor added
What is needed though is legislation which will set out criteria for property owners who rent out to tourists in residential areas, specifying landlords’ obligations and the rights of tenants.