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HOTEL, TOURISM & LEISURE

Culture And Heritage Set To Boost Domestic Tourism

Culture And Heritage Set To Boost Domestic Tourism

Domestic tourism is booming across the globe, while the trend is projected to carry into 2021, as the Covid-19 pandemic is still unfolding and travellers continue to prefer close-to-home, low-risk holiday options. The so-called “staycation” trend has also been resonating with Cypriots who have been choosing to spend their holidays and weekends at the beautiful seaside resorts and picturesque rural communities of the island. Meanwhile, the government has also been contributing to this trend, since, until the end of November, more than 100 hotels across the island will be taking part in a scheme that supports domestic tourism, by subsidising 35% of the accommodation costs.

 

At the same time, museums across the island, also benefited from the rise in domestic travel, receiving a record number of local visitors in 2020, while they also received a boost from the government’s initiative for free entry to a number of state-owned museums. Specifically, as part of its effort to increase visits and upgrade the tourism product for local and foreign visitors, the government has, since last August, made some 12 museums under the jurisdiction of the Department of Antiquities free to visit, while also extending their opening hours.

 

Rural communities come alive through cultural tourism

Because of its rich history and tradition, Cyprus is home to different types of museums, focusing on archaeology, history, traditional handicrafts and pastimes as well as the flora and fauna of the island. Cyprus’ museums are an important part of the country’s cultural tourism product, as they showcase the best of the island’s history and culture, while helping rural communities keep their economies afloat.

 

In fact, apart from the bigger museums that are usually found in the biggest cities and municipalities of Cyprus, many small museums are tucked away throughout the island’s sparsely-populated countryside, giving local travellers a great reason to explore places they wouldn’t have heard about otherwise.

 

Exploring the history of copper in picturesque villages

With a number of museums focusing on the geology and mining history of the island, an interesting, albeit little-known, museum is located in Katydata, a small village in Nicosia district.  The Museum of Mining Heritage is in fact home to some of the most impressive artefacts from the island’s rich mining past.

 

Specifically, the creators of the museum, whose first room has been made to resemble a copper mine, have elaborately copied the caverns of the Skouriottissa Mines, while also displaying mining gear and tools. The second room of the museum displays several mineral samples such as chalcopyrite, iron pyrite and ochre, while it also showcases products from copper, silver and gold.

 

Aiming to delve deeper into this theme, we asked Peter van der Borgh, an accomplished exploration geologist and the Managing Director of Venus Minerals, a Cyprus-based company conducting copper and gold explorations on the island, about our country’s potential to further develop mining tourism. Mr. van der Borgh stressed that “Cyprus used to be a main producer of copper, and as such it has a very rich mining history. The Museum of Mining Heritage offers just an example of how the government can tap into the potential of mining tourism, thus diversifying the island’s tourism offering”.

 

Van der Borgh added that in the face of various challenges due to the pandemic, developing alternative forms of tourism such as agrotourism, cultural tourism, mining tourism and ecotourism is key for the island’s economy. “These niche types of tourism will be able to attract even more locals to remote rural areas, thus rejuvenating their local economies”, he explained and went on to point out that across the country there are in fact indications of substantial untapped mineral deposits.

 

Abandoned mines can be reclaimed to the benefit of the economy

“Given that mining is a long-term investment, its sustainable development can have a positive impact on the country’s economy by creating new jobs and infrastructure, generating additional tax revenue as well as fostering transferable skills”, noted Mr. van der Borgh, adding that “modern, sustainable mining provides long-term benefits, both immediate and secondary.” “For example,” he said, “tourism or renewable energy can benefit from the remediation of old mining sites. A reclaimed open pit could indeed potentially provide a variety of new opportunities ranging from a recreation hub to an efficient site for solar power generation”.

 

From weaving to embroidery and wine museums 

Furthermore, there are many museums dedicated to showcasing traditional handicraft methods and traditions handed down from generation to generation. One of these is the Weaving Museum in Fyti, which features examples of the village’s famous woven textiles, demonstrating how textiles were made since the Medieval Times. Moreover, in the beautiful and well-maintained village of Kato Drys, visitors can come across the Bee & Embroidery Museum, which features over 1000 exhibits dedicated to village life as well as a rich collection of traditional lace and embroidery (Lefkaritika).

 

At the Fikardou Rural Museum, in a village that has been declared an Ancient Monument, visitors can also get a glimpse into the preparation of homemade products such as bread, dried figs, wine and Zivania, while they can take part in various seasonal activities such as fruit-picking. At the same time, wine lovers can take a journey through the island’s long winemaking history, at the Cyprus Wine Museum in the village of Erimi. The Museum presents the various stages of wine production and consumption, while it also offers wine-tasting.

 

 

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