Participation from international professional athletes in the 8th Limassol Marathon is down compared to last year with marathon coordinators blaming the high cost of airplane.
“Athletes from abroad have complained to the Cyprus embassies in their countries about the extremely high cost of air tickets to visit Cyprus in order to participate in the Limassol Marathon,” Vasilis Vavalos, Limassol Marathon Race Director told The Cyprus Weekly.
According to Vavalos, athletes from France and Germany reported that an airplane ticket to Cyprus would cost them around €900. Meanwhile, three athletes from Italy who booked tickets and have come to Limassol to run in the Marathon have paid a whopping €3,500. “They flew from their town in Italy to another town, then to Athens, and then to Cyprus. This is unacceptable, considering that, for example, a German athlete can go to a Marathon in France for under €300,” said Vavalos.
“We have informed the CTO and we hope that a solution will be found. People abroad know about the Limassol Marathon, they want to come, but they cannot. It is a shame, as we are trying to tap into the sports tourism segment. Just consider that one million people travel to attend Marathons throughout the world each year,” he added.
Limassol Marathon stakeholders have been actively promoting the event abroad. “We have a strong presence in the UK, where we cooperate with a major sports news agency that support us for the brand awareness of Limassol and the Marathon. In Greece we work through the Athens Marathon and cooperate with running clubs. In other European countries we work through tour operators and special interest websites,” said Vavalos.
Speaking at a press conference in Limassol, local stakeholders noted the significance of the Marathon for boosting tourism. “The Limassol Chamber of Commerce and Industry has always supported the Marathon, which we consider of exceptional significance from a sports and a tourism perspective,” said Chamber Director Christos Anastasiades.
A total of 4,000 runners participated in last year’s 7th Limassol Marathon and organisers estimate that approximately 5,000 will run this year. Although total participation is expected to be higher this year, participation from international athletes is lower. Last year approximately 800 professional athletes travelled to Cyprus for the event, an indication of the Limassol Marathon’s potential to earn a place on international athletic calendars.
The event costs an average €120,000, which - to the present-has been covered by participation fees and sponsorships. A total of 500 volunteers work for the successful completion of the project. It is organised as a joint effort of Limassol Municipality, Limassol Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Limassol Tourism Development Company and the GSO. The Limassol Marathon is considered unique due to the scenic view of the exclusively seafront route and the mild temperatures that prevail in Limassol this month.
The 8thLimassol Marathon, which will take place on Sunday, is certified by the international federations AIMS and IAAF. In addition to the Marathon, there will be a half Marathon, a 10km Health Race, a 5km Corporate Race, and a 1km Student/ Children Race. As the event’s entertainment sponsor, Guaba Beach Bar will hosting a party featuring live bands and DJs.