PAPHOS timeshare and holiday ownership companies are desperate to clean up their aggressive image and want to continue to operate in a regulated and policed fashion.
Brendan Surgenor, CEO of a Paphos-based company specialising in holiday ownership, contacted the Cyprus Mail after a recent story highlighted aggressive touting in the seaside resort.
He pointed out there are three main companies operating these services using touting methods, and they all wish to be licensed and legal.
“I agree that there are some operatives who are aggressive, and there are areas of Paphos where there are far too many concentrated in one place, such as the harbour.
“It would be a good idea if, for example, each company was allowed five representatives, who would be in coloured uniforms with ID badges. Then people would be able to identify them and complain if they were treated aggressively. It could be a case of three strikes and you’re out. This is common practice all over the world.”
Timeshare or holiday ownership can either mean a form of part ‘ownership’ of a property or the legal right to use a particular property, depending on the terms dictated in the contract.
Surgenor has a 20-year history in the timeshare industry, including in Greece, and has been operating in Paphos for four years as the CEO of a company involved in holiday ownership including, Interval International, RCI, and which has exclusive rights to international cruises and excursions in Cyprus.
He stressed, “I’ve approached the Paphos mayor Savvas Vargas on a number of occasions to request a licence as this would be of help to all of us. We want to be policed and regulated, but I was told this wasn’t possible. We want to work with the mayor,” he added.
Surgenor believes holiday ownership is a good thing for Cyprus and says figures suggest it brings in around €10 million a year in tourism revenue. According to Surgenor, even when times are lean, time-share properties are 50-60 per cent full.
Touts are fined €85 a time if they are found to be harassing members of the public. Surgenor has calculated that this money amounts to €3,000-4,000 a month.
“We aren’t ignorant to the situation,” he said, “and we are asking for professional help, I want to get involved with the relevant officials to discuss what we can do.”
The sharer has no claim of ownership over the property, and may have a number of options attached to the agreement such as gifting, internal sale, or the right to rent it out for a specified allotted time.
Established holiday ownership companies in Paphos include, Karoushi, Leptos and Panareti. But they don’t necessarily use touts on the street. Leptos sell their holiday ownership internally and Surgenor believes this is because they don’t want to be associated with these types of problems.
He added, “We are all on very good terms and I often have Cypriot companies knocking on my door, especially since the global financial crisis.”
Surgenor believes timeshare to be an outdated term that only refers to fixed weeklong holidays, whereas holiday ownership is more flexible.
“I would like nothing more than to sit down with the CTO, the mayor and the police and sort out a strategy.”
And what if this meeting isn’t forthcoming?
“I plan to clean up the mess, bring down the numbers of representatives on the streets, and legalise the touts to a specified number per company,” he advised, “There are many dotted around Paphos; it’s not just on the seafront and in the market.”
Surgenor added, “I’m continually asking for a license and the last time we requested one was about three months ago.
“I was again told there isn’t one that could apply to us. Instead, via a member of the municipality who pointed me in the right direction, I have rented a small shop in the market.
“I don’t need as many people on the street, and I have exhibitions inside. People are inquisitive and come into me; it’s getting rid of the need for touts. But it still really needs to be controlled.”
Countries such as Spain, the Canary Islands and Malta are policed and controlled.
Countries such as Spain, the Canary Islands and Malta are policed and controlled, and Surgenor believes this approach is more professional.
“We have highly trained staff who have worked in the industry before, but sometimes there are those who are badly trained, and have no idea what they’re doing. I mean, you can’t have three people in the harbour and 15 touts, it’s ridiculous.”
Surgenor said he represents the views of all the holiday ownership companies in Paphos, and pointed out that most are owned, or connected to Cypriots.
“It will be a lot nicer if we could be registered, and have five out on the streets instead of 40.
“We all want to listen, and don’t want to break the laws, and I would love to approach the mayor again if he would sit down and listen to me. I know he embraces the idea of holiday ownership, but not the presence of touts on the streets, and this way of marketing.”
Surgenor insists he is using other methods of promotion.
“People come into my shop of their own free will, and I’m just opening a second one.”
“It’s now down to the municipality if they would like to meet up. If there is no control, things get out of control; it’s just common sense. My door is always open.”
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