MUĞLA - Anatolia News Agency
Turkey is set to establish 69 new tourism areas in 24 different cities to increase the number of foreign visitors to 33 million. Kayaköy and Muğla’s Telmessos are hosting the latest projects
Restoration work began two months ago at the Telmessos’ ancient theater. Also, this year, Kayaköy will be restored and a facility will be built there. AA photo
Turkey is preparing to establish new tourism facilities and tourism areas with the goal of attracting 33 million foreign tourists this year, according to the culture minister.
The latest projects are in the ghost town of Kayaköy and the ancient city of Telmessos in Muğla, while Ölüdeniz will also undergo a pilot project to enhance its infrastructure. Overall, the country will have 69 new tourism areas in 24 different cities.
Culture Minister Ertuğrul Günay visited Telmessos’ ancient theater, where restoration work began two months ago. The Fethiye Museum manager İbrahim Malkoç and architect Esin Tuzcuoğlu informed Günay about the work.
After visiting the area Günay said Fethiye demonstrated the importance of culture and heritage very well. In 2011 the area attracted many tourists despite economic and political problems, but in 2013 the same problems may interfere with the tourism target, Günay said.
“There are many interesting developments in the area, and we would like to finish the promised restoration on time,” he said, adding that the work in Telmessos would return a lost and forgotten monument to Fethiye. This year 69 new tourism areas will be designated in 24 cities, with 23 of them near the seaside and 23 of them in thermal areas, he said.
The new areas, ranging from the Aegean to eastern parts of Turkey, will attract golf, mountain and winter tourism.
The village of Kayaköy is located 8 km south of Fethiye, where Anatolian Greek
speaking Christians lived until approximately 1923. The ghost town now consists of hundreds of rundown but still mostly intact Greek-style houses and churches which cover a small mountainside. “Kayaköy has been abandoned, however its nature and heritage are beautiful and valuable … We need to look after the area and make it available for tourism,” he added.
This year, Kayaköy will be restored and a 300-bed facility will be built there, the minister said, adding that a few investors were interested in the area.
Kayaköy might become a very important tourism center in Turkey, according to Günay. “If we have a high-quality tourism center, then we will receive lots of tourists.” These developments will contribute to the area’s economy and welfare, he added. Pilot project
The minister said this year a pilot project would be launched in Ölüdeniz, “because Ölüdeniz has very important environmental beauty and we have had some infrastructure problems there. This year we will look at every kind of problem in Ölüdeniz and try to improve the environment.” Günay said Turkey had a good year in tourism despite most African visits being canceled. Last year’s numbers were not lower than 2011’s and economic and political problems were the main reasons for not receiving enough tourists, he said.
“We have lost 400,000 tourists because of the political problems in Israel, and the problems in Syria and Iran
also cost us 1 million tourists,”
Despite all of these problems Turkey has surpassed the figure from 2011 and ended last year with a 500,000-tourist increase, he said. “Currently we are at almost 32 million [foreign tourists] and aim to reach 33 million.”
Günay also said the traditional architecture and heritage of Anatolia was another asset for Turkey and they were currently working to develop the region.