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Operator sought for the Troodos Observatory

A tender competition for the selection of a concessionaire/operator to take over the operation and management of the Troodos Observatory, recently launched by the President of the Republic, Nikos Christodoulides, was announced by the Treasury-Public Procurement Directorate through e-procurement.

It is noted that, as the President of the Republic has pointed out in a relevent speech, the goal is to have the operator selected by September and that this will be someone who will take over the entire management of the location and promote it as an important attraction for the region.

According to the tender documents, the concession contract will be for ten years, with an option on the part of the Contracting Authority to renew it for a 5-year period.

The objective of the concession agreement is the use, operation and management of the Troodos Observatory in order to meet the general objective of the GEOSTARS cross-border cooperation project, of which it is part.

The goal of the project is to increase the number of visitors and, by extension, the economic development of the Troodos region, through the creation of a new form of alternative tourism.

In particular, the objectives of the concession contract are for the Observatory to function as:

  • A pole of attraction for tourists and Astrotourism,
  • A tourist spot for stargazing,
  • An informative destination (of Astropark standards), with unfettered access by the public and partially educational (for programmess of a special type and for special interest groups),
  • A space for research and academic activities.

The expected results

Also based on the documents, the expected results from the management and operation of the Observatory are that:

  • The Observatory should basically function as a tourist and informational destination. Other possible activities of the Observatory should be carried out without affecting its visitation by the public on a daily basis.
  • To utilise possible synergies with involved bodies active in relevant fields of science, as well as with bodies related to education, tourism and the promotion of the region (for example in collaboration with the Troodos Tourism Development and Promotion Company (ETAP ) to promote activities to attract travelers and tourists).
  • For the organisation of informative visits by groups of pupils and students in consultation with the Ministry of Education.
  • Any other results will be proposed by the operator in their business plan.

Opening hours and the possibility of operating a cafeteria

Among other things, the selected operator’s obligations will be the following:

  • The operating hours of the Troodos Observatory will include at least five days a week, two of which will be Saturday and Sunday and for at least five hours each day.
  • The concessionaire (operator) is obliged to take action for the orderly operation of the Observatory and its equipment (compliance with safety and guarantee rules, maintenance and other other obligations that may arise during the concession contract and upon its expiry).
  • There is the possibility of operating a cafeteria in the premises of the Observatory, but its operation is up to the concession holder.

Submission of reports

In addition to the above, the operator should submit to the project owner the following Reports regarding the execution of the activities of the subject of the concession agreement and the results achieved:

  • Commencement report - within 6 weeks of the start of implementation of the concession contract.
  • Progress reports - every 3 months, throughout the implementation of the concession contract,
  • Completion report - at the end of the concession contract implementation period.

The Inception Report should include:

  • The conclusions of the initial discussions with the Contracting Authority and the project owner, and the contractor's first findings regarding the conditions of the subject of the concession contract,
  • The main themes identified,
  • The immediate actions proposed and the priorities set,
  • The updated timetable for the implementation of the object of the concession agreement, with the critical points noted,
  • The work program for the implementation of the object of the concession agreement.

Progress Reports should include:

  • A presentation of the progress of all activities and deliverables (a clear distinction should be made between activities that are in progress, those that have been completed and those that have not yet started), recording of the meetings held with officials of the Competent Committee and/or other stakeholders operators,
  • An updated work program for the period until the submission of the next Progress Report,
  • A presentation of the progress of the implementation of the actions decided to be carried out to solve past problems,
  • The identification of problems and proposals for solutions.

The Completion Report should include:

  • A record of all activities implemented and deliverables prepared and submitted,
  • An assessment of the degree of achievement of the expected results,
  • Proposals for future needs of the Competent Committee related to the object of the concession contract implemented.

It is emphasized that extraordinary reports will be submitted by the operator/concessionaire when they consider that they should inform the Competent Committee on important issues or when they are asked to provide an opinion on special issues related to the subject of the concession agreement.

Conditions and risks

With regard to the conditions for the implementation of the object of the concession agreement, they are as follows:

  • The execution of the obligations on the basis of the concession contract by the concessionaire.
  • Coordination and good cooperation between the project owner and concessionaire.
  • The effective operation of the concessionaire's project team.
  • It is emphasized that the concessionaire/operator must employ qualified personnel who meet the requirements of the business plan and the needs of the proper operation of the Observatory.

However, based on what is mentioned in the tender documents, the most serious risks associated with not fulfilling the above conditions are:

  • Delays in the execution of the object of the concession agreement.
  • Difficulties in visiting the Troodos Observatory (either due to reduced hours or due to accessibility).
  • Visitors having difficulty finding information.
  • Problems in the operation of the equipment or other activities in the Observatory area.
  • Problems due to incorrect or absent equipment maintenance.
  • Cleanliness and safety issues for the staff and visitors of the site.
  • Failure to take corrective actions during the execution of the Concession Agreement.
  • Damage to the equipment due to insufficient training of the staff/subcontractor, especially in cases where expertise is required to operate the equipment.

The Troodos Observatory

  • It is noted that the Troodos Observatory was implemented under the responsibility of the Limassol District Administration in the community of Agridia with a total cost of construction and astronomical equipment of €1,770,000 and is located on land that has been leased by the state to the Community Council of Agridia for 33 years (03/01 /2013 until 02/01/2046).
  • The building includes a reception area, an office/meeting room, spaces for two telescopes and a presentation area.
  • Equipment has been installed, consisting of two main telescopes, a 20-inch astronomical telescope with a mechanically rotating domed roof and a daytime solar telescope with a specially designed mechanically moving roof.
  • The building also includes the Astro-Marina, a platform specially designed for the mounting of personal mobile telescopes by amateur stargazers.
  • Additional equipment could be installed in the presentation area so that it could also be used as a planetarium.
  • The construction works were undertaken by J. Mantis Constructions Ltd, following a contract signed with the Limassol District Administration, in April 2021, for the construction of infrastructure, supply and installation of stargazing equipment in the Agridia community.
  • The architects of the project are Nicodemos K. Tsolakis and Elena K. Tsolakis, of Kyriakos Tsolakis Architects, who designed the building that has won many international awards and recognition.

Click here to visit the e-procurement page related to the tender.

(Source: InBusinessNews)

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