John Aziz Kent
I would like to say thank you to Cyprusscene and Engin Dervişağa for showing an interest in the Kumarcılar Han (Gamblers Inn) in Lefkosa through the Discovering North Cyprus programmes on BRT2 television (click here). I took a liking to this beautiful structure built by the Ottomans which had deteriorated over the centuries and left in very poor condition inside the walled city of Lefkoşa.
I returned to my Island from the UK to build the first Cypriot Turkish hotels and also help build the tourism Industry for my beloved and deprived Northern Cyprus because everything up to 1974 was being destroyed by the Greeks.
The Cypriot Turkish people before 1974 were not allowed to participate in tourism but my passion for helping our people to develop Tourism made me look at everything which could help our cause and what better than historical sites which could be restored and used for marketing North Cyprus to the outside world.
The Kumarcilar Han was owned by several rich people who were living all over the world so I set out and traced them in 8 different countries. I then bought their shares up to 75% and set out to restore it but some of the ground floor shops, despite the dilapidated condition of the building, were still being occupied either as stores or some as shops. Now I had to take the people concerned to court to evict them but needless to say I had to compensate them to leave the building..
It took me 35 years but with the help of the Turkish Embassy, and I thank them, I was able to restore this building and it is now helping my passion for Tourism by providing 37 families who have invested as tenants in the building and who are now making a living and encouraging tourists to come and visit this beautiful Han from all over the world
Thank you Chris and Margaret for once again bringing this historical building through your cyprusscene website to the attention of our people and especially the governments of the past and those who made it difficult, or easy, for me to bring my dream to fruition.
Thank you and God bless you all
John Aziz Kent
Turkish Cypriot Hoteliers Association