Crack down on Paphos touts
ARMED with tougher new penalties and an increased police presence, Paphos tourism officials have declared a massive crackdown on illegal timeshare and other touts who have long pestered tourists.
“I can promise I will fight to clear up our streets,” said Nassos Hadjigeorgiou, the tourist manager of the Paphos regional board of tourism, adding that a concerted effort is underway to clear all illegal touts off the Paphos streets before the start of the summer season in May.
He hopes that tough new penalties of up to six months in prisons and/or a fine of more than 1,500 euros, plus more police officers patrolling the worst-afflicted areas will ensure that 2011 is the year that visitors to Paphos can finally enjoy a stroll along the harbour or a quiet cup of coffee without being hassled by pushy salespeople trying to flog often dodgy holiday ownership properties.
”The law governing this type of instance changed last year and it is now easier for us to bring a case to court,” he said. “Previously it had been too complicated and fines were not big enough.”
A telephone hotline to help tourists will also be launched, and the Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO) will give out leaflets to all hotels and hotel apartment warning tourists to beware of the touts.
Hadjigeorghiou said that fines must be set at a high amount to ensure that the punishment will make a hole in the company’s pockets.
“If we don’t do this, there is no real punishment for these companies as they are getting such high revenue from their customers.”
In the last couple of years aggressive time-share touts even resorted to hassling guests inside top-class hotels along the Paphos seafront in a desperate attempt to drum up new business. With the weather warming up, illegal touts are already out in force in the main tourist areas along the harbour and seafront of Kato Paphos.
“Our aim for the last five years has been to stop these people, but this year we are making a big push to stop it,” Hadjigeorgiou said,
He pointed out that although various types of illegal touting take place in Paphos, the biggest problem comes from individuals trying to sell holiday ownership or timeshare.
“These people now refer to themselves as OPCs - off-site personal contacts - and I must make it clear that we are not against timeshare or holiday ownership as a form of tourism, but we are totally opposed to having these operators on our streets.”
Paphos police spokesman Nicos Tsaapis said officers have already been assigned to the areas most affected by touts, and numbers will be increased from May onwards.
“If a report of illegal timeshare touting or other forms of touting is made to the police, we will attend the scene of the complaint and either issue fines or in some cases prosecute the perpetrator and they will be taken to court,” he said.
Some local businesses - including timeshare and holiday ownership clubs operating in Paphos - made a suggestion last year that some street operators could be licensed. They claimed that this would be a good way of ensuring companies and individuals were operating in the correct manner and also that as they would be wearing identification badges, it would be easy to weed out any inappropriate behaviour.
“We are completely against this way of promoting tourism,” said Hadjigeorgiou. “Giving out licences would not be appropriate as a lot of this accommodation being sold is not even licensed and the consumer needs to be protected.”
The tourist official said there are currently 28,000 licensed tourist beds in Paphos.
“All the others are selling a non licensed product so there is absolutely no guarantee of quality.”
“这些人现在称自己为OPCs的 - 场外个人接触 - 我必须说清楚，我们并不反对分时或作为一个旅游度假的所有权形式，而是我们完全反对我们的街道上有这些操作。 “
一些地方的企业 - 包括分时度假俱乐部，度假所有权帕福斯经营 - 去年提出的一项建议，一些运营商可以获发牌的街道。他们声称，这将是确保企业和个人经营方式和正确的，因为他们还穿着识别徽章，这将是很容易的任何不当行为杂草的好办法。