Old houses to turn into hotels in Şanlıurfa amid soaring demand for Göbeklitepe
Historical houses in the southeastern province of Şanlıurfa will turn into boutique hotels in a bid to host the high number of tourists expected to come throughout the year to the ancient site of Göbeklitepe.
The old houses, with different architectural features, have stood strong for decades, drawing visitors.
In addition to cultural tourism, Şanlıurfa hosts a large number of local and foreign tourists every year thanks to Göbeklitepe on the UNESCO World Heritage List, which is known as the world’s oldest temple.
According to data from the Şanlıurfa Culture and Tourism Directorate, the province had experienced a drop in interest in 2015 and 2016 after the collapse of a peace process between the Turkish state and the illegal PKK. The number was floating around 650,000 in 2015 and 2016. In 2017, the figure rose to 810,000 due to what the government calls the “restoration of peace.”
The city last year welcomed more than 1 million people and is expected to host more people as 2019 was announced as the Year of Göbeklitepe.
Although the tourism season has not come yet, some 200,000 local and foreign tourists visited the city in January and February.
While many hotels in the region are fully booked in the spring months, they are likely to leave out many tourists wanting to come to the province. The historical houses are planned to be restored and converted into boutique hotels to solve the accommodation problem in the city.
The Şanlıurfa Metropolitan Municipality has restored 11 historical houses around the historical Balıklıgöl, the pool of sacred fish. Thus, guests will accommodate in historical places.
Speaking to state-run Anadolu Agency, the head of the Şanlıurfa Union of Historical Towns, Nihat Çiftçi, said that Şanlıurfa has a history of 12,000 years and they have tried to protect the heritage in the city including historical streets, bazaars, inns, mosques and houses.
Stating that the city had made significant steps in the field of tourism, he said they expected more tourists thanks to the Year of Göbeklitepe.
“We have restored the bazaars, inns, historical streets, tombs and mosques. Also, we currently restore the historical houses, known as life houses. They will have important functions. Within the protection plan, we reorganized the houses inside the city walls as boutique hotels along with the streets there. Our goal is to welcome more tourists in the future. People will be able to travel freely and can see the traces of historical architecture, culture, art and life. We believe that the restored houses will contribute to the accommodation needs of the city. The restoration of four houses has been finished recently. Now 11 houses are under restoration and works continue. We aim to finish the restoration of all houses in the historical field,” Çiftçi said.
He also added that the municipality formed the Şanlıurfa Promotion A.Ş. to work with the relevant institutes.
Kamil Türkmen, who runs a boutique hotel, said that Şanlıurfa had a very important tourism potential and they believe a very successful tourism season awaits them.
He said that the problem had emerged as the tourism season approached.
Saying that he began running a boutique hotel after long works, he added: “Boutique hotel management is very easy in the city because we have many historical neighborhoods, streets and houses. After their restoration, we can conduct the projects and open the houses as boutique hotels in the short-term. People who want to experience the historic city stay in these hotels.”