Turkish coasts get ready for summer of tourism under clouds
ANTALYA – Anadolu AgencyTourist facilities and local administrations in the southern province of Antalya, which hosts nearly a third of all tourists visiting Turkey, are preparing for the summer season under a cloud as Turkey’s tourism industry continues to struggle.
Maintenance and repair work is ongoing in many facilities ahead of the new season, while representatives of local administrations are focusing on promotional works to counter the negative effects roiling the industry in Turkey.
Officials say they expect to see more tourists from Iran and Israel this year, hopefully compensating for a decline in European tourists.
“This year is not as promising as previous years but life goes on and facilities are preparing for the new season,” said Turkish Hoteliers Federation (TÜROFED) President Osman Ayık.
“Preparations have been made with minimum costs. Worker recruitment will begin in the coming months. Nearly 600,000 people were employed in previous years but I don’t know what it will be this year,” Ayık added.
Alanya Touristic Enterprises Association (ALTID) President Burhan Sili said they were focusing on the promotion of Alanya in fairs abroad.
With the support of the Alanya District Municipality and the Alanya Chamber of Trade, Sili said stands had been opened in fairs in the Netherlands, Finland, Germany, Ukraine and Iran.
“Out of 27 fairs abroad, Alanya took part in 20 fairs. Turkey is an irreplaceable market. One way or another, tourists will continue coming to Turkey,” he added, while saying that foreign tour operators had warned about declining interest.
“But they also say the bed and prices balance in Turkey has no equal in the market. But there is a reality that we have a serious loss in the Russian market. There has also been a drop in sales in Europe but it may be possible to meet this deficit with last minute sales,” Sili said, pointing to the importance of reassuring potential tourists that terrorism does not pose a threat in coastal areas.
‘Promotion needed to protect image’
Turkish Travel Agencies Union (TÜRSAB) Alanya Regional Executive Board President Suat Çavuşoğlu also said they believed that 2016 would be a troubled year for Turkey’s tourist industry.
“We have nearly 190,000 beds in Alanya. This is a big capacity. We host 4 million tourists in a year but we will not be able to reach this number this year. There is no problem in our hotels. They are ready to open but most of them will open later this year. The occupancy rate is too low in the open ones at the moment,” Çavuşoğlu added.
Sadi Yıldırım, who is the deputy general manager of a hotel in the Kemer district of Antalya, said they expected the “toughest tourism season since 1999,” when the Marmara earthquake hit Turkey.
“It is important to get through to May and June. Hotels in Kemer used to be full of Russian tourists up to 40 percent capacity in May and June. We now need different markets to fill this gap. Everyone talks about the Chinese market but Chinese people do not like the sea and most of them do not know how to swim. But we think Ukraine, the Middle East and the United Arab Emirates could choose Kemer,” Yıldırım said, adding that it was not possible to reduce costs.
“If we place less emphasis on customer satisfaction we will completely lose our European guests next year. If you bring down prices, the whole marketing system will collapse down,” he warned.
“The Ukrainian market may be tripled compared to last year, but it cannot be an alternative to Russia. We expect an increase in the Middle East market,” he added.
Local administrations preparing coasts
Besides tourist facilities, local administrations are preparing the coasts and beaches for the approaching tourist season.
The Antalya Metropolitan Municipality has been checking buffets, restaurants, changing rooms, showers, and toilets, while also carrying out landscaping works and putting out sunbeds. Forty-five projectors have been placed in different spots for the area to serve at night, while special women’s beaches will also have playgrounds.
The six-kilometer blue-flagged Konyaaltı beach will serve between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. in the summer season, while entrance to municipal beaches, sunbeds, showers and toilets will be free of charge.
In the Beach Park, one of the most important beaches in Antalya, various sports activities will be organized, including the Beach Volleyball and Pro Beach Tour of Turkey.
Coasts cleaned in Olimpos and Adrasan
In the Adrasan neighborhood and Olimpos, which are alternative tourist facilities in the Kumluca district, the coasts have been tidied up, the roads have been maintained, and the walking routes have been reorganized.
Kumluca Mayor Hüsamettin Çetinkaya made a pitch to foreign tourists, describing Adrasan and Olimpos as Kumluca’s “window opening to the world.”
“Visitors have the chance to holiday in nature and history. They can walk the ancient Lycian road as well as see other ancient places,” Çetinkaya said.