The Ministry of Tourism and Environment, in cooperation with the Municipality of Girne, organised a Tourism Festival in Girne, which was held on Saturday 21st April.

The festival started with a cortege walk between Girne Ramadan Cemil Square and the Ancient Harbour.  Later, there was a concert by the Security Forces Command Band.

Tourism Promotion and Marketing Department Branch Manager, Mustafa Köprülü, who made the first speech, thanked everyone who participated in the festival held in Girne, which was part of the Tourism Week events.

Girne Mayor Nidai Güngördü stated that the city of Girne and tourism are inseparable from each other and stated that Girne is the tourism capital and focal point.  Güngördü emphasized that collaboration with ministries, civil society, professional organizations and people is important for Kyrenia tourism and continuing the development plan.

Fikri Ataoglu, Minister of Tourism and Environment, said that tourism development and economical development in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), an island country, could be possible with tourism and higher education, tourism, economic development and employment being important contributors.

Ataoglu stated that there are 1½ billion people living in a 4-5 hour flight distance to the TRNC and that the goals are to increase the occupancy rates in the hotels to 90 percent throughout the year by developing mass tourism, health sports, eco and other tourism alternatives.

As a Ministry, Ataoğlu said that they are determined to spread concrete laws, legal and infrastructural arrangements and tourism diversification in the country and to spread them to 12 months. He explained that they worked in cooperation with all the stakeholders in the sector.

Recalling that they interviewed local companies to support their employment and the consumption of domestic products, Ataoglu also explained that they are trying to rehabilitate OTEM and to train tourism workers.

Recognizing that Girne, which is the main tourist area of the country, is working to increase the tourism potential and raise the standards, Ataoglu stated that the works of a cableway project for Girne are continuing and that the Fine Arts Museum, which was closed in 2012, will be restored and opened again, the work for landscaping in the historical Lambousa Kingdom have been started and from 30th May a sea route between Girne and Alanya would start.  Ataoğlu also stated that these projects have shown the belief that great progress will be achieved in the country’s tourism.

President Mustafa Akıncı said that similar activities were held in April 1999 during his own time as Minister of Tourism and that now there is a difference in terms of understanding tourism from that time to the present day.

Noting that the TRNC has distinctive seasons throughout the year, indicating that tourism must be sustainable, Akıncı stated that it is also pleasing that the occupancy rates have been good in winter this year.

Akıncı stated that the future should not be forgotten, not only for the tourists coming to Kyrenia, but also for the port, the castle and the historical and cultural heritage in the TRNC.

Akıncı emphasized that Northern Cyprus offers a very nice climate, beautiful beaches, Mediterranean cuisine and very nice hospitable people, and noted that these values of the country should be protected.

Akıncı said that it is pleasing that Girne has a reconstruction plan and that after this stage a planned development can be achieved, he said, “We should be able to protect our historic cultural heritage and achieve historical and cultural harmonization.”

He also said tourists who visit the country have complained on the issue of environmental pollution. “We must worry about pollution of the environment and we must all struggle to increase awareness as civil society organizations, the people and the Ministry”.

During the tourism festival, Girne Kordonboy area was promoted with a stage for the various events and stands selling food and beverages specific to Turkish Cypriot culture and cuisine.

During the festival, there were many concerts, folk dances and modern dance shows, activities for children, various treats, gift draws and Girne Harbour and Girne Castle tours.