Turkish Cypriot region of Maras welcomes over 330,000 visitors
Coastal region in Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus was reopened to public in October 2020 after 46 years
LEFKOSA, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus
More than 330,000 tourists have visited Maras in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) since the coastal region was partially reopened to the public in 2020.
Maras had virtually become a ghost town as it remained cut off from the world for some 46 years.
A portion of the region – just about 3.5% of the total area – has been reopened since October 2020.
According to official records, more than 330,000 domestic and foreign tourists have visited the town since the reopening.
Municipal authorities of Gazimagusa, which includes the coastal Maras area, have made various arrangements for visitors, such as refreshment kiosks and bike rental points.
Sunbeds and umbrellas have also been placed along the two main beaches, while social events are also regularly organized.
Ibrahim Yilmaz, a tourist, said Maras' history is one of its greatest attractions.
“This area can be restored and used for film shoots, particularly historical films,” he said in a conversation with Anadolu Agency.
Another tourist Serkan Erol said he regularly travels to the TRNC for business, but this was his first time in Maras.
“Being here gives you a feeling that you've stepped back in time,” he said.
“I think it is extremely important for our youth to be aware of their history. Coming to Maras can be really beneficial in that respect. I plan to bring my family and children here soon.”
- Decades-long dispute
Cyprus has been mired in a decades-long dispute between Greek and Turkish Cypriots, despite a series of diplomatic efforts by the UN to achieve a comprehensive settlement.
Ethnic attacks starting in the early 1960s forced Turkish Cypriots to withdraw into enclaves for their safety.
In 1974, a Greek Cypriot coup aimed at Greece's annexation led to Turkiye's military intervention as a guarantor power to protect Turkish Cypriots from persecution and violence. As a result, the TRNC was founded in 1983.
It has seen an on-and-off peace process in recent years, including a failed 2017 initiative in Switzerland under the auspices of guarantor countries Turkiye, Greece and the UK.
The Greek Cypriot administration entered the EU in 2004, the same year Greek Cypriots thwarted the UN's Annan plan to end the longstanding dispute.
*Writing by Gozde Bayar