Nicosia (Lefkosia), the capital of Cyprus, one of the oldest cities in our part of the world, today is a sophisticated and cosmopolitan place in the Eastern Mediterranean, rich in history and culture, combining its historic past with the amenities of a modern city. The heart of the city, within the 16th century Venetian Walls, has a number of interesting museums and art galleries, Byzantine churches and a number of mediaeval and neo-classical buildings while the narrow streets retain the romantic atmosphere of the past.
Since 1974, the people of Cyprus are experiencing the tragedy of a divided country, with the Green Line cutting in two the heart of the capital city Nicosia which still remains the last divided city in Europe. The regeneration of the divided historic centre of Nicosia constitutes a priority for Nicosia Municipality with a focus on the protection and reuse of its architectural and cultural heritage, as an asset of major cultural, economic and social significance. Outside the Walls, the new city with its modern facilities is a cosmopolitan centre of a modern European capital. People living in Nicosia, either by birth or by choice, feel that Nicosia is a place close to their heart. For Nicosia – or Lefkosia, in Greek – is a vivid reflection of the history of our region, the mirror of the past 6000 years.
Reflection on the tourism in the pilot
Nicosia, located in the center of the island, according to official statistics hosts only a 5% of the total touristic traffic in Cyprus, as the type of tourism mostly promoted in Cyprus is “sea and sun”. Nicosia, as the capital of Cyprus and seat of government of the Republic of Cyprus, is the commercial and financial centre of the island and this is the reason that it mostly hosts business and diplomatic visitors as well as a big number of tourists visiting friends and family. Nicosia’s tourism is characterized by seasonality in terms of tourism arrivals, showing an increased touristic traffic between November and March in contrast with the other cities of Cyprus. Individual tourists represent 98% of touristic traffic in Nicosia.
The average duration of stay of tourists in Nicosia stands at 12.4 days, which is higher than the island-wide average. However, the average expenditure per person in Nicosia is much lower than the island-wide average. The combination of low expenditure and long duration of stay in Nicosia, is likely to be due to the big numbers of tourists staying with friends and family.
The old city centre, within the remarkable 16th century Venetian Walls, with its narrow streets, restaurants, bars and art-cafes attracts the interest of tourists and it’s the liveliest part of the city. A number of the most important museums, galleries, churches and other important cultural points of interest are also situated there and some in other parts of the city. Also, tourists often visit the old city in order to see the buffer zone and the “Green Line” that cuts in two our city.
Current waste management practices
Concerning Nicosia Municipality, the municipal solid waste is collected by municipal garbage trucks or from some collective system’s (private companies) vehicles from households and business at least once or two times a week. The residual or mixed waste is transferred to Kotsiatis landfill which is situated outside the municipality boundaries area. The recyclable materials, green waste, electric and electrical equipment, household batteries, used clothing, textiles and bulky items are collected separately and transferred to appropriate facilities of private units for special treatment and handling. The recyclable materials such as paper, plastic and metal beverage boxes and glass are collected separately from door to door or from bins located in private or public points. The different streams of recyclable materials must be separated from the other types of waste from households or businesses in order to be collected from the collective systems (sorted at source). The majority of these materials are exported for special treatment. Furthermore, Nicosia Municipality for the promotion of processes in order to reduce, reuse and recycle the different materials, has operated a temporary drop off point (green point) where the citizens have the opportunity to transfer the different steams of household waste where are collected from the municipal workers without any charge.
Moreover, the communication and the dissemination of the fundamental information to citizens, tourists and businesses is substantial for increasing the quantity of waste sorted at source and reducing waste generation and the tones of garbage ends up to landfill. Therefore, Nicosia Municipality in order to reinforce citizen’s awareness, enhance their willingness to reduce their waste and participate to recycling programs, organizes cleaning campaigns, participates to volunteer campaigns, published press releases, prepare and disseminate informational leaflets and announcements and use of posters in important key areas such as bus stations. At this point it would be useful to mention that the Cyprus Tourism Organization in cooperation with Cyprus Sustainable Tourism Initiative and Travel Foundation (non profit British organization) had created a project with title ‘waste mapping’ that aims to reduce hotel’s food waste and improve the management of their waste.
Impact of tourism on waste management
Although according to official statistics, Nicosia has less tourism traffic during summer months, the quantity of municipal solid waste collected is slightly higher during summer. This is probably because there is increased traffic in the centre of the city (walled city) by locals spending time in the area. Also, the slightly increased quantity of solid waste might be due to the fact that there is an increased number of tourists in organized tours visiting the city for a couple of hours even though their main place of stay might be in the coastal cities.
The pilot expects from urban waste to reduce the total quantity of residual waste produced, increase recycling, and implement innovative tools and devices for monitoring the waste production especially to big producers (e.g. hotel industries). Moreover, to preserve and upgrade the beauty of the city and the quality of life of citizens by limiting the street sweeping needs and the collection of containers or litters from roadsides. As a result, the necessity to provide sufficient awareness and training to businesses and tourists and the application of innovative methods and practices by the municipality, are fundamental.