AGGRESSIVE timeshare touts have resorted to hassling guests inside top-class hotels along the Paphos seafront in a desperate attempt to drum up new business.
“Most of the hotels along the Kato Paphos and Yeroskipou seafront have recently been subjected to the increasingly aggressive behaviour of these people trying to sell time- share and holiday ownership. They are venturing into the hotels and harassing guests, it’s become out of hand,” said Nassos Hadjigeorgiou, the tourist manager of the Paphos regional board of tourism.
“We’ve had numerous complaints from hotel guests and visitors to Paphos who said they would never come back.”
An emergency meeting to discuss the situation was held at Paphos Town hall, which Hadjigeorgiou attended along with, Themis Philipides, the President of the Paphos branch of PASYXE, the Cyprus Hotels Association, Paphos assistant Divisional Police Commander, Nicos Sophocleous, the Mayor of Paphos, Savvas Vergas, members of the CTO, and other concerned official bodies.
“Urgent steps need to be taken to stop the behaviour of these people, and we pledged to start working on the problem immediately,” said Hadjigeorgiou.
He stressed that the problem didn’t lie with timeshare or holiday ownership as a product, but the way in which was promoted.
There have been reports by guests of touting by hotel swimming pools, as couples and their families are trying to relax, as well as in hotel bars, restaurants and foyers.
“These ‘sellers’ are giving such a hard time to customers in order to sell their timeshare. They’re pouncing on visitors wherever guests may be out walking and enjoying the sights or ambience of Paphos. They have been reported along the new pedestrianised seafront area, the Tombs of the Kings, the archaeological park, the municipal market, and in fact everywhere there may be tourists,” said Hadjigeorgiou.
Despite the fact that the companies involved have received numerous requests to halt conducting their business in this manner, their aggressive behaviour is getting worse, he said.
“I’ve walked up and down the seafront for the past nine years and this is a problem I can see for myself. I have been trying to put a stop to it for a long time,” Hadjigeorgiou added.
He said he understood that there was a problem of inadequate numbers of police officers available in Paphos to help stamp out touting but said the Divisional Commander and been very helpful when he realised that the situation had become so much worse lately.
Hadjigeorgiou believes that touts have become more aggressive.
“Their targets, who are mainly British, don’t have the financial means anymore, and this is causing them to become increasingly persistent. Everyone, including the Paphos Chamber of Commerce is keen to see an end to this phenomenon,” said hadjigeorgiou.
He said the touting was destroying the image of Paphos and could only be bad for the town in the long run.
The CTO has also received complaints but the legal framework doesn’t give it the power to do anything. Hadjigeorgiou said tourism officials were hoping for a far-reaching change to existing laws.
In the meantime, he said, a plan has been put into action to stop the touting.
“There are six or seven of these companies. They are known to all of us, and are all owned by British nationals who employ aggressive British staff,” said Hadjigeorgiou.
He said unwanted touts in hotels were violating private property, and advised hoteliers to call the police. “They don’t seem to want to accept that they’re causing a problem in many cases,” he added.
“Touts chase down holidaymakers and use lottery cards to entice people; and everyone of them is a winner. They then take them to a specified place to collect their so-called ‘prize’ and get them involved in the property presentations. Often the people are then pressurised into signing contracts of sale, which then cause big problems for them in the future. They’re brainwashed by these people.”
Hadjigeorgiou had some advice for people who want to put an end to this practice in the town.
“The police told us to report any incidents to the officer on duty. I would advise the public to report to restaurants, bars, and hotels of any of these sorts of activity, or to call the officer on duty at Paphos police station on 26806050.”
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