There are many fine hoteIs with high standards, from large and luxurious to small and simple; from the grandeur of the international chain to the convenience of hotel apartments with cooklng facilities. There are youth hostels too, and camping sltes with good facilities. But all share the island charm of wellcoming smiles and good friendly service.
Cyprus continues to grow as a serious conference and incentive destination, and many hotels have now responded to this demand with excellent meeting halls and the most modern faciliies for businessmen. Their staff are well trained to cater for the needs of business groups, while imaginative local travel agents have perfrected the art of surprising incentive visitors with outings that range from the unusual to the spectacular. In Nicosia you will find the most sophisticated Conference Centre on the island which accomrnodates more than 1,OOO delegates.
Cyprus history presents an unlimited choice of places to see and things to do. Neolithic settlements, ancient Greek temples and theatres, Byzantine churches and monasteries, tombs, museums and castles - or just a glimpse of the simple life of yester year in remote villages, unchanged and steeped in tradition.
To get around the Island there are hire cars from International and local companies, or tours in luxury air- conditioned coaches with well trained guides that speak fluent English. There is also an inexpensive but frequent inter- town service taxi system, whereby the visitor rents a seat, and good public bus services. Driving is on the left as in Britain and distances between towns relatively small.
With its wonderful climate Cyprus offers a variety of sports to choose from all year round, and an opportunity to embark on something exciting and different. Her unpolluted waters offer every type of watersport possible, and the chance to experience the exhilarating speed of parascending, or even explore the mysteries of the deep by sub-aqua diving, under the expert guidance of several professional schools recognised by the British Sub Aqua Club.
Cycling or hiking take on a new dimension in the safe unspoilt and beautiful countryside where superb views, wild birds, flowers and exotic plants can be studied at leisure. And in the winter there’s enough snow for a short skiing season in the Troodos Mountains.
Religion plays an important part in Cyprus life. This is evidenced in the predominance of impressive monasteries, churches, chapels and roadside shrines on the island. The country has known Christianity since Roman times, when St Paul arrived in Pafos and converted the Roman Proconsul Sergius Paulus in 45 AD. Whilst Greek Orthodox is the national denomination, all other faiths are completely accepted and many practised at their own places of worship, such as Anglican and Catholic churches.
Religion and celebration are deeply entwined, and the most important event in the church calendar is the occasion of Easter. Another popular religious festival and one which is unique to Cyprus is “Kataklysmos” meaning the Flood which coincides with Pentecost, and is celebrated at seaside towns - especially Larnaca.
But festive excuses are not hard to find. Every village has its “panagyri” or fair usually at harvest time. On a larger scale the island celebrates its grapes at the annual Limassol Wine Festival; Its flowers at various town festivities. The Carnival, chiefly in Limassol (but recently in Larnaka and Pafos too) is celebrated with parades, parties and masked balls, and there are cultural festivals in summer Including the ancient Greek Drama Festival.
There s so much choice that the problem in Cyprus is not what to buy but what not to buy. Pottery is always popular for the items are small distinctive and very inexpensive. The famous handmade embroidery known as “Lefkaritika” after its village of origin, can be found all over Cyprus and makes another enviable gift. Legend has it that Leonardo Da Vinci found this work so beautiful that he took a tablecloth back with him to place on the "Ayia Trapeza" altar of Milan Cathedral. Also attractive are the local silver or copper work, the baskets and tapestries. Shoes are a good buy, being stylish but extremely reasonably priced and leather, either made up into jackets, bags or cases, or made to measure for visitors, is a bargain that’s hard to resist. And so are textiles. You will also be pleasantly surprised to note that the prices of spectacles are very reasonable.
Cypriots enjoy a high standard of living - one of the highest in the area and the country’s main industry, tourism, provides employment for a sizeable proportion of the population throughout the year.
Tourism in Cyprus began to play a significant role in the general economic development of the country after the island won its independence in 1960. A few years later the island became one of the major tourist centres of the Mediterranean because of its geographical position, natural beauty, cultural heritage, and its excellent tourist facilities. Now the island receives more than a million and a half tourists every year.
As an agricultural country Cyprus bolsters her economy with the significant production of potatoes, citrus, fresh vegetables etc while the importance of manufacturing can be seen in the exportation of Cyprus clothing, footwear, wine and foodstuffs.
Following the lead of other Mediterranean countries. Cyprus was linked with the European Economic Communlty through an Association Agreement which led to the recently signed Customs Union agreement. The agreement is the first of its kind and provides for the gradual dismantling of customs barriers over a ten year period.