In recent new initiatives by the Cyprus Sustainable Tourism Initiative (CSTI), holidaymakers can find the real Cyprus beyond the beaches and hotel complexes. This initiative has created six self-drive village routes accessible from the island’s main resorts, all of which allow visitors into rural areas. It is in these areas, with the help of funds from the EU, that traditional Cypriot businesses and crafts are being revitalised. The self-drive routes cover the area around Limassol; Orini, Larnaca and Lefkara; Famagusta with its red earth villages and windmills; the Troodos Mountains, plus Pitsilia and Akamas national park. Visitors can discover traditional Cypriot businesses in action on these routes. For example, visitors can see jam-making, chutneys and soutzouko in the little village of Agros in the Pitsilia region or the Tsolakis rosewater factory, where rosewater is extracted from petals and used in candles and liqueurs. Interesting for young children is the olive workshop and theme park with its reconstructed mill and replica donkeys at Oleastro.
Meantime architectural heritage and ancient history are plentiful in smaller and more remoteareas of Cyprus, such as Troodos and Kykkos monastery. Included in the series of self-drive trails are several archaeological sites associated with the goddess Aphrodite extending across Cyprus from Cape Greko to Akamas. These include Kition in Lamaca, the Acropolis of ancient Amathous, Kouklia village, Petra tou Romiou (Aphrodite’s Rock) and the Baths of Aphrodite.
Such self-drive ideas can be accessed by those who choose a hotel-based holiday, but increasingly, visitors can access the local lifestyle by booking a stay in one of over 40 villages, where converted village houses offer rustic and comfortable accommodation with fireplaces, patios (and often swimming pools to those who prefer). These village-based holidays enable holidaymakers to meet local people and even get involved in olive or grape-picking amongst other farm-based activities.
Moving further into the idea of sampling local agrarian economic activity, the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) has created six wine routes to help holidaymakers discover the island’s history of wine production.
The clearly-marked routes cover the main wine¬growing areas, including Laona, Ampelitis, Panagia, Vouni, Commandaria, Pitsilia and Limassol. It is possible to see large producers as well as smaller and family-owned wineries. At all locations, wine-tasting is a big feature.
All-in all, Cyprus is at the forefront of holiday ideas addressing the new reality of sustainable tourism development. This carefully-controlled progress is set to continue, enabling eco-conscious travellers to enjoy the Mediterranean in a style which helps guarantee the prosperity of local people.