Introduction of agrotourism as a means of regenerating the economies of five villages and demonstrating that there is an alternative to mass tourism.
April 1989 - December 1994
Funds utilised and donors:
Approximately C£0.5m or US$ 1 m. contributed mainly by: D.G.XI, European Commission; the A.G Leventis Foundation, Cyprus; the Cyprus Government; Cooperation for Development, U.K.; the Cyprus Tourism Organisation; Sunvil Holidays. UK; Wildlife Travel, UK; Churchill Hotels, Cyprus; as well as many other donors who contributed in cash and in kind
38 professionals from many disciplines offered their services to the Project, of whom 19 did so on a voluntary or 'expenses only' basis
20 architectural firms cooperated with the Project, one management consultancy and a research bureau. The following NGO's made an input to the Project:
Friends of the Earth (Cyprus), Friends of Akamas, Cyprus, Cyprus Architectural Heritage Organisation, Business and Professional Women Cyprus, Cooperation for Development, U.K., Cypriot Estia of London, U.K.
During its five years of operation the Project produced more than 3,472 written documents of which a large part was correspondence with Government officials.
Reports and other publications:
- 20 reports covering general progress or specific issues
- 3 books: Birds of Cyprus Walks and Strolls in Laona Akamas Myths and Legends
- 1 colour brochure in four languages
26 (including houses, a taverna, a guest house, 2 churches, and a listed monument)
Visitors to the area:
14,294 visitors up to end 1994 (based on figures kept by the Visitor Centre at Kathikas since 1993)
Press Conferences & Media:
- 3 press conferences, (two in Nicosia, one in Paphos),
- 4 appearances on Cyprus T.V., one on CNN
- 12 radio interviews including BBC World Service.
- 12 articles in UK and European publications Countless appearances in local press.
Presentations of the Project made abroad:
Presentations were made to: The Greek Cypriot community in London, - 'Green Flag', International Seminar, Stoke on Trent, UK, - Conference of Balkan Architects, Athens, Greece - ECOTEC Meeting, Mallorca Spain,- ECOVAST Conference, Arcadia, Greece - Lancaster University, U.K. - EIBTM Exhibition, Geneva, Switzerland
OUTCOMES OF THE LAONA PROJECT
With assistance from the Laona Project, a number of houses in five villages close to the proposed Akamas National Park were restored in the traditional Cypriot style, some of which were rented to holiday-makers. Additionally, with funding from the EU, the Leventis Foundation and the Cyprus Government, the Environmental Studies Centre was established in the village of Kritou Terra.
The project repaired four houses, one of which was a listed building used as agrotourism accommodation. We restored the disused school to operate, since 1995, as an Environmental Studies Centre. We also invited the Antiquities Department to restore the abandoned Byzantine Church of St Catherine outside the village, and we proposed a walk to the village ‘washing holes’ which were suitably enhanced.
Τhe Laona Project has restored six houses, two of them being listed buildings (http://www.booking.com/hotel/cy/chloe-s-house.el.html). The Project also restored the old school, replanting its playground with indigenous aromatic herbs to operate as a ‘Herb garden’. In addition, Laona beautified the water tanks near the 18th century church.
The Project restored two houses, one of them being a listed building now operating as the Amarakos Inn (www.amarakos.com). Also we restored the Miller’s House (Spiti tou Mylona) by the waterfall outside the village, to operate as an exhibit of a miller’s home dependent on the adjacent water mill. This is a pleasant to 2km walk which also leads to a restored Byzantine chapel of St Marina on the edge of a spectacular, "undiscovered" gorge.
The project restored two houses, one of them a listed building used for agrotourism accommodation, and encouraged the local weaver to promote her work. The abandoned monastery of Ayioi Anargyroi, famous for its sulphuric water, is now a spa.
The Laona Project restored the old school at Kathikas to operate as a Cultural and Information Centre for the area, it re-designed and improved the village square and the area around the church. The Project renovated the Araouzos Tavern and the Farm Yard restaurant and funded the renovation of many facades on the main street, on the principle that, once their facades looked attractive, owners would be encouraged to restore their buildings more generally.
The Laona initiative has inspired the restoration of more houses in many other villages. Those available for rent can be found via the Cyprus Tourism Organisation.
Where are we now, more than 20 years later? What inspiration was provided by the Laona Project?
Μany more village houses correctly restored for rental or used as summer houses by their owners. The Cyprus Environmental Studies Centre is in full operation, generating income for the community. By 2018 over 60,000 students and school pupils had attended courses at the Centre. The Chapel of St Catherine (an outpost of the Monastery of St Catherine on Mount Sinai, Egypt) is now fully restored
- 7 tavernas are now operating
- Μany more houses restored
- Two wineries and a folklore museum are in operation
The Amarakos Inn has attracted many visitors. The Byzantine chapel of Saint Marina, near the waterfall, is nowin use for services.