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Thematic Routes To Spread Tourism To Mountain And Rural Areas

Thematic Routes To Spread Tourism To Mountain And Rural Areas

Tourist arrivals to Cyprus recorded a consistent increase in the past few years, breaking one record after another. However, the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic and the restrictions on flights to and from Larnaca and Paphos airports have changed the picture considerably. Apart from the economic support schemes, introduced in the wake of the pandemic to support workers and businesses in the tourism sector, the Deputy Ministry of Tourism announced a series of measures aiming to boost domestic tourism.


Among them was the recent launch of the “Extraordinary Plan for the Support of Domestic Tourism”, aimed at encouraging Cypriots to take holidays in the country. Also, throughout the summer, targeted campaigns were launched to promote the country’s tourism amongst locals, offering ideas for short gateways and excursions. At the same time, with overseas destinations essentially out of the picture, Cypriots began rediscovering their homeland, visiting popular as well as less explored places.


Thematic routes enrich Cyprus’ tourism

Thanks to a range of thematic routes, previously introduced by Savvas Perdios, Deputy Ministry of Tourism within the framework of creating common tourism packages with neighboring countries, locals have had the opportunity to combine, for example, a bike ride with a piece of history or tradition. Specifically, the Thematic Routes vary from nature trails to cycling, wine and religious routes while there are various specially-designed cultural routes, each with a different theme that leads travelers to discover some of the island’s most historic mountain and rural areas.


In fact, Perdios said recently that a new tourism initiative scheduled to launch in the beginning of 2021 will help spread tourism to the mountain and rural areas of the island, while he revealed the launch of a new 300km authentic route in these areas “is really going to change the game for Cyprus”. It is worth noting that the World Tourism Organisation, recognising the importance of tourism for the survival of rural areas and preserving cultural heritage, has devoted this year’s World Tourism Day, celebrated on 28 September 2020, to ‘Tourism and Rural Development’.


Discovering Cyprus’ mining history 

Among the most prominent thematic routes is the Copper Cultural Route, a self-drive route that spans the island, suggesting visits to mineralized rock outcrops (“Gossans”), mines and museums. Mining tourism is considered a niche type of tourism, that presents an opportunity for the development of former industrial regions as well as adding to the tourist experience of the island.


Once the largest producer and exporter of copper, Cyprus’ history was in fact, heavily influenced by this metal. Referring to the country’s lengthy mining past, Peter van der Borgh, an accomplished exploration geologist and Managing Director of Venus Minerals, a leading company based in Cyprus exploring for deposits of copper and gold on the island, said; “Cyprus has a rich copper-mining history dating back nearly 5,000 years. Following the events of 1974, most mines and projects were abandoned. Since then, there has been limited production of copper in Cyprus, leaving untapped resources behind”.


Cyprus was once one of the most important sources of copper in the world. In fact, pure copper - or its alloys - was a basic material needed for the development of civilisations around the region. Cyprus’ copper contributed to the technological progress of the entire Mediterranean world and even beyond. The Copper Cultural Route is essentially a journey not only through Cyprus’ historical legacy but also its geological heritage.


Gossans, Mines and Museums in a few hours drive

The drive begins from either Limassol or Larnaca towards the village of Sia where, just a few kilometres outside of the village, striking yellow and brown gossans can be spotted, typical of areas where there is copper mineralization. What is more, two former open-cast copper mines can be found on the left, where the rock formations can be studied by taking a stroll through the site.


The next stop is the Mathiatis South Copper Mine, among pine trees leading to bright coloured gossans and the lake of the former copper mine. There is partial view of the North Mathiatis open-cast copper mine, following a further drive towards Agia Varvara. Continuing towards the village, where the Almyras Copper Mine and its workshops are located, travelers can come across findings, that date back to 600-150 BC.


The next point of interest is Katydata village, home to the Museum of Mining Heritage. The museum gives visitors an idea of what copper mines used to look like, what copper miners’ tools were and what artefacts and sculptures were produced throughout the island’s 5000-year history of copper. The last stop is the working Skouriotissa Copper Mine which is only a five-minute drive from Katydata.


Van der Borgh pointed out that Cyprus has the potential to further develop mining tourism and attract a diverse group of travelers. “Developed countries such as Australia, Canada, Sweden and Spain have tapped into the potential of mining tourism by establishing mining regions as cultural heritage sites and organizing guided tours, thus diversifying the country’s tourism endowment and creating multiple benefits for the local economy”, he added.


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