Nicosia should be the town to host a resort casino because the divided capital with the island’s largest population has been ignored by tourism officials for too long.
This is what head of Nicosia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (EVEL) Costas Georgallis told The Cyprus Daily, yesterday.
“Just because Nicosia does not have the sea it does not mean that it should be ignored by those promoting the island’s tourism for years on end,” Georgallis said.
“A resort casino in the capital, which has the highest population in Cyprus, it is divided and thus already punished enough, is more than necessary. We want to put an end to one-day visitors only,” he added.
EVEL wants to set up a committee made up of representatives of the Nicosia Municipality but also of all its suburbs as well as friends of the capital to lobby for the casino.
“Is it fair for a town contributing the most to the island’s economy to only enjoy 5.6 percent of tourist visits? And why do people keep saying a resort casino should be by the sea? Does Las Vegas have a sea? No,” Georgallis argued.
He made clear they have neither a specific location nor a developer or businessman in mind and that they are not promoting the interests of anyone.
“We will really fight hard to make the Nicosia bid a winner because we love our town, we love the capital. The Cyprus Tourism Organisation has ignored it for years,” he said.
“And President Anastasiades seems to promise all representatives from all towns that the casino will be built in their hometown. We have to make him understand that it is Nicosia’s turn,” he added.
Georgallis noted that Nicosia is a big business and administrative centre flooded with thousands of businesspeople – local and foreigners – for whom a casino of high standards would be a major attraction.
In addition, if the Cyprus problem is solved, Nicosia is only 25 minutes away from Larnaca airport and just 10 minutes away from Tymbou airport in the Turkish-held north.
Nevertheless, the first bi-communal casino is already operating in the mixed village of Pyla for the past five months, according to Turkish Cypriot ‘Africa’ newspaper.
“We might have been unable to set up a united Cyprus but we have managed to set up the first ‘united’ casino,” Africa’s front page report said.
“The casino, which opened up as an internet café five months ago, has provisions for all gambling games, it employs 10 croupiers and most staff members are Greek Cypriots,” it added.
The owners are reportedly a Turkish Cypriot businessman from Famagusta and a Greek Cypriot for whom no details were given out.