BOWLING could actually be bringing in more tourists to
Cyprus than golf and without the environmental baggage of
water hungry golf courses, according to those involved in
the sport in Cyprus.
According to Norris Forster, the P.R. and marketing officer of the Aliathon bowling club in Paphos, flat green bowling is the way forward in attracting visitors to Cyprus.
"I've recently been speaking to hotel managers in Paphos to get an idea of figures. We had the European championships in Cyprus in 2007, and obviously it brought visitors to the island. I would say weÂre bringing more bowlers to the island than golfers, and we have the added bonus on playing on a special carpet, so we donÂt use any water, as the golfers do."
According to Forster, figures from the Athena beach hotel and the Aliathon Hotel showed that bowling tourists used a total of 38,000 bed nights, during the last winter season alone.
Forster has sent a letter to the CTO informing them of the figures, and urging them to help promote the sport in Cyprus worldwide.
"I've yet to hear anything back from them. And thereÂs never any mention of bowling in any of the information they give out. ItÂs a real shame."
There are often competitions taking place in Paphos, with bowlers regularly taking part from all over the island. There are currently four bowling clubs in Cyprus.
Foster is hoping that more holiday companies will begin to promote bowling in Cyprus.
"There are four well-known UK based travel companies who are already prompting holidays aimed at bowlers in the winter months. These people usually have to play indoors during the winter in the UK, but instead they could come out here, and play outside in the sunshine."
Bowlers in the UK are used to playing on a special indoor carpet during bad weather.
"We have a similar carpet out here, which is treated against the high intense UV rays. For example, a carpet guaranteed for ten years would be unusable here after about three. The UV rays break down the fibres," he said.
It seems as if Fosters' letter may have aroused interest, as unconfirmed reports suggest the CTO is investigating the hotel booking numbers.
The summer of 1991 saw a group of enthusiastic bowlers introduce flat green bowling to Cyprus at the Queens Bay Hotel in Paphos. They played on a green carpet, which was placed on top of an undersized concrete base. Sadly, the carpet deteriorated and play had to stop.
In June 1994 the Avanti hotel opened an, all weather green and 16 members initially started bowling. The numbers steadily increased, and more than 40 people were playing on a regular basis. It was decided that a bowling club be formed, and on August 28, 1994, a working committee evolved. They later moved on to use the facilities of the Aliathon Hotel, and the Aliathon bowling club was born.
In the last European championships, Cyprus came in 9th place, out of a total of 15 countries. The team representing Cyprus was made up of two ladies and two men, of whom all were British. One of them was Paphos-based Linda Ryan, who recently represented Cyprus in the World Bowls Singles Champion of Champions competition in Aberdeen in Scotland.
Ryan bowled for England for four years, as a member of the indoor and outdoor associations, and has been selected to play in the European championship in February 2009, which is being staged at the Athena Beach Hotel in Paphos. Countries taking part include, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Israel and Spain, Holland, Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man.
Ryan has also just been elected as President of Bowls Cyprus, which is the governing body of the sport on the island.
"It's an honour that my club put me forward, and I hope I can do the job justice,Â she told the Cyprus Mail.
"We had an open day about six weeks ago and so many people turned up. A good few of them have booked coaching sessions, and I hope we will see some new members from them. We want to encourage all the different levels. I think you get back what you put in," she added.
The club holds training sessions on a weekly basis, and before championships it helps the Cyprus team learn each otherÂs game.
The Aliathon have the use of two bowling greens, a five rink and an eight rink, both with an artificial surface. The bowling club currently has more than 100 members, with more signing up every month.
Because of the balmy climate in Cyprus, bowls is a sport, which can be played year - round, and many of the competitions involve cash prizes. According to Forster and Ryan, it doesnÂt take long to pick up the basics, and they claim everyone could enjoy this new sport, along with an increased social life.
"I would say about 90% of our members had never bowled before, prior to joining our club," said Ryan.
Forster added, "as we have the largest number of bowling greens in the Middle East, it seems a shame that theyÂre not being properly promoted by the CTO and other Cypriot companies."
n Cyprus will take part in the European Games from February 22 to March 1 at the Athena Beach Hotel. The tournament consists of two ladies singles matches, two gents singles matches and two mixed pairs; all points won are accumulative for the Cyprus team. In 2007 Cyprus finished 9th, one position higher than in 2005 when it was hosted in Portugal.
The four clubs are the Aliathon Bowls, Aphrodite Bowls, Coral Bay Bowls and Louis Phaethon bowls. For further information log on to www.aliathonbowls.com
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2008