Kyrenia beaches ‘hijacked’ by hotels
By Kyriacos Kiliaris
Kyrenia residents are not allowed access to most of the beaches in their region. The reason behind this is that many hotels built on the coast have sectioned off access to the shore in their vicinity and allow entry only to their guests or demand payment.
A group organised through Facebook and calling itself “Let’s go to the beach for free: Beaches belong to the people” is challenging this.
They claim the hotels are acting outside regulations and are protesting against such actions by turning up in groups wearing swimsuits, holding umbrellas and other sea gear and demanding access to the beach without paying.
Protesters are bringing with them a copy of the relative regulation that states no one (other than the authorities) has the right to prevent people from accessing the coasts in the north.
Speaking on behalf of the group, Yusuf Ozgu Sertel told the Cyprus Weekly that in many cases they were physically stopped from entering the beaches, with hotel security sometimes getting violent with them.
“Our latest protest took place at the Elexus Hotel in Kyrenia, where we were told we could not enter the beach without paying, as the beach is private property.”
Protesters, who broadcast the demo live through their social media account, informed the security of the hotel that they were in violation of the regulations.
Security personnel then told them that the beach closed at 4pm.
“When we refused to leave, they started yelling and tried to take our camera by force,” said Sertel.
In the end, the protesters called the police who, to Sertel’s amazement, this time intervened, and gave instructions to the security to allow the group on to the beach.
Sertel stressed the problem is widespread in Kyrenia as “most beaches in the town have been hijacked by the hotels”. He said that this was not something new, having personally been protesting the phenomenon for the past 12 years.
Nonetheless, Sertel added that things have started to change with the group’s interventions, as people are being informed of their right to access the beaches.
The group’s representative said they consider themselves a social movement. “We have more than 10,000 followers, and every time more and different people join our protests.
“Just think: people in Kyrenia are faced with so many problems. If they are not unemployed, most work at minimum wage.”
He added that, while people have to pay a high price for everything, hotels were taking away the one thing Kyrenia residents ought to have had in abundance – the beach.
“No, my friend, we are going to fight for our right to cool off at the beach, for free,” he said.