By David Robinson

A new €220m marina project in Ayia Napa, southwest Cyprus, continues the expansion of the country’s marina infrastructure. The new facility, which will be able to berth 600 yachts up to 60m (197ft), is being developed by Egypt’s Orascom Group with a 70% share, and local firm Caramondai Bros with 30%, according to a report in The Cyprus Mail.

Work on this new project, which has been on the drawing board for a few years, is anticipated to start later this year when all the planning approvals have been completed. The build time for this large resort and marina project is set at three years and, in addition to the marina, there will be 1,200m (3,940ft) of beach front, a five-star hotel, villas and apartments.

Cyprus has prioritised the development of marine leisure infrastructure, including marinas, as a key part of its tourism industry expansion up to 2020. The EU classes this business area as ‘blue growth’, which it states employs 5.4 million people and generates some €500bn.

Cypriot Energy & Tourism Minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis says: “The project is of great importance to Cyprus. It is a project that will enrich our tourist product, in line with the objective of the new strategy. The Egyptian investor had come to an agreement with the consortium that planned to build the marina in the Ayia Thekla area.”

Naquib Sawiris, executive chairman of the Orascom Group, comments: “We opted to invest in Cyprus because we believe in this country which has beautiful beaches. The aim is to promote Ayia Napa as a top tourist destination.”

Sawiris expects the project to be completed in three years. Orascom is a widely diverse group but it has been operating marinas in Egypt for several years and it is now also involved in a resort project in Montenegro, which also includes a marina.

Beyond the Ayia Napa marina and the 650-berth marina that opened at Limassol last year, there are also plans for a new 1,000-berth marina in Paphos but this is currently on hold because of a court case related to its development. A €700m plan to develop the port and a new marina at Larnaca, which dates back a few years, has also been on hold since the financial downturn.