Cyprus is at an exciting stage of its development as a golfing destination. With its excellent Mediterranean climate, high quality tourist infrastructure and services and well-located airports, Cyprus aims to capture a larger share of the European golf travel market by developing more and diverse golf courses and integrated golf resorts all over the island.
In the Tourism Strategic Plan 2003 -2010 golf tourism is a priority special interest product. It contributes towards the enrichment of the tourist product, increase in tourist arrivals and expenditure as well as the alleviation of the seasonality problem.
At present there are three 18-hole golf courses in Cyprus, all located in the south-western region of Paphos. In chronological order of their opening, these are:
- Tsada Golf Club: Situated on the outskirts of Paphos on an altitude of 550 metres above sea level and set in the grounds of a 12th century monastery in a valley near Tsada village. Designed by Donald Steel, it plays to a par 72 and measures 6.060 metres. Open since 1994. www.cyprusgolf.com
- Secret Valley Golf Club: Situated 18km east of Paphos it lies in a scenic valley with grand trees and beautiful rock formations. It plays to a par 71 and measures 5.904 metres. Open since 1996. www.cyprusgolf.com
- Aphrodite Hills: Situated around 20 km east of Pafos on 2 plateaus, 300 metres high and overlooking the legendary birth-place of Aphrodite. Designed by Cabell Robinson, it plays to a par 71 and measures 6.232 metres. Includes an Inter-Continental five-star hotel and other types of real estate development. Open since 2002. www.aphroditehills.com
In 2005, a total of around 80.000 rounds of golf were played in all 3 golf courses
The Government of Cyprus has approved a New Golf Policy in order to stimulate private investments in integrated golf projects. The incentives provided are in the form of development rights. In order to ensure sustainability, the New Golf Policy incorporates a set of evaluation criteria in order to achieve high quality standards for the golf, the resort facilities, ancillary and infrastructural developments. They also ensure environmental standards and aesthetic merit.
The Policy will remain in force until Cyprus develops a total of 14 golf courses. The Policy also encourages the development of championship golf courses.
By the November 2005 deadline nearly thirty interested investors had expressed preliminary interest for the development of golf courses in all regions of Cyprus. The relevant Evaluation Committee chaired by the Town Planning Dept is in the process of evaluating the applications and the ones that pre-qualify, will shortly be invited to submit a full application within 18 months.
Foreign investors interested in golf and other tourist developments on the island could investigate the possibility of co-operating with local investors. Golf investments could be combined with other high priority tourist investments such as conference centres, wellness-spas or sports centres.
At the recent KPMG Golf Business Forum it was made clear that the new golf courses and associated developments, once approved, must be completed within a reasonable time frame. Indeed there are incentives to do so with extra development rights being offered as a carrot to the first project to open.
Despite the need for speed, developers must conform to strict policies. There are, for example, rules governing the proportion of the site that may be used for residential development and there will a strict limit to the number of properties that will be allowed alongside fairways. The majority of the properties must be built in clusters. With an eye towards encouraging the growth of golf within the resident population of Cyprus, the Government has also insisted that the new developments must allow public access to their courses.
The KPMG Forum was attended by many of these would-be developers who this had the opportunity of listening to an international panel of experts in golf course design, planning, financing, development, marketing and operations. In total the Forum was attended by 211 delegates from 31 countries.
The Forum concluded that there is a definite future for golf in Cyprus. The all-year-round sunshine of the island means that golfers who find they cannot play in their own countries in winter can come to Cyprus. Their season ends around October, just when the golfing high season in Cyprus is getting under way. It was agreed that there must be a greater number and choice of flights to cater for the increased demand.
Certainly the Cyprus Tourism Organisation is doing what it can to promote golf. The Organisation participates in major travel markets and golf fairs and organises familiarisation visits to the island for golf journalists and tour operators.
Cyprus has a great potential for golf and aims, within a comparatively short period of time, to become a prime attraction on the world’s golfing map.
Cyprus Tourism Organisation www.visitcyprus.org.cy