5 million Turks expected to go on vacation in July and August

5 million Turks expected to go on vacation in July and August

Burak Coşan – ISTANBUL
5 million Turks expected to go on vacation in July and August

Approximately five million Turks across the country are expected to go on holiday in July and August, with the June 23 mayoral elections ending and schools breaking up for the summer, tourism players have said.

“A mobility of approximately five million people will be experienced in July and August. And we estimate that 40 percent of these will stay at hotels,” said Osman Ayık, the head of the Turkish Hoteliers’ Federation (TÜROFED).

The remaining 60 percent of the vacationers will either go to their hometowns to spend time with their relatives or spend their holiday at their summer houses, according to Ayık. “The mobility in the country has started as of the end of June and will last until mid-September [when schools open],” he said.

Ayık said that although hotel prices increased this year due mainly to the increase in the value of foreign currencies against the Turkish Lira, the number of domestic tourists did not decrease. “The preferences [of vacationers] have shaped depending on the prices [of hotels],” he said.

Ayık said that among these expected five million vacationers will be a significant number of officials who took on various duties during the months-long local elections campaign. “When also taking into account the ministers, deputies, executives of political parties at their headquarters as well as provincial and district offices, bureaucrats on duty at elections, civil servants, police and all other duty holders [in elections], we are estimating a population of five million [to go on holiday]. During the election process, especially these groups have got tired. Now everyone needs to throw away their tiredness and to get rest,” he said.

“And there is also the Istanbul residents who could not go to vacation [due to the re-run of the mayoral election]. And this is a mass that are economically well-off and have high purchasing power. They can therefore travel more easily [financially],” Ayık also said.

The port city of Bodrum in the Aegean province of Muğla and the Mediterranean province of Antalya will be the most preferred choices of the vacationers, according to experts.

Bodrum Hotels Association president Halil Özyurt said that Bodrum had a “calm” season in June in terms of the number of Turkish tourists, excluding the nine-day-long Eid al-Fitr holiday. “In terms of the number of people going on vacation, Istanbul is a very important source for tourism areas. With the end of the election in Istanbul, the interest of local tourists for Bodrum has risen a lot.”

Özyurt also touched upon the arrival of foreign tourists in Bodrum, saying the figures of the first five months of 2019 were “very good.” “There is approximately an increase of 25 percent [compared to the same period of last year] in the number of [foreign] tourists coming to the Bodrum airport. There is a high demand from Russia and Poland. The British are again the biggest market,” he said.

The head of the Union of Mediterranean Touristic Hoteliers and Operators (AKTOB) similarly said that with the finalization of the mayoral election in Istanbul, they started to see a “mobility” in the domestic tourism market.

“We can say that the number of both domestic and foreign tourists will increase in June and August…This year we will witness an increase not only in terms of the number of tourists, but also in the revenues,” Erkan Yağcı said.

As for the number of Turkish citizens traveling abroad for vacation, the year of 2018 had seen a decline due to the increase in the value of foreign currencies. While this number was 9.4 million 2017, it fell to 8.6 million in 2018. The number of Turks going to Greece, especially Greek islands, fell on the other hand to 781,000 in 2018, from 921,000 the year before.

The operational manager of Yeşil Marmaris, a company organizing ferries from the Turkish coastal towns of Marmaris and Bodrum to Greek islands (and vice versa), said that they had sold 20 percent fewer tickets so far in 2019, compared to the same period of 2018, to Greek islands.

Sertaş Erarslan however said that this stemmed from the new mayoral election being finalized only recently and the closure of schools on June 14, adding that they have now started to see a “serious increase” in the number of departures for Greek islands.

“During a period, with one euro trading over 7 Turkish Liras, the departures had decreased. But with the drop and a euro trading for 6.5 liras, Turkish vacationers started to be on the move again. And as of this period, the postponed vacation plans have kicked in. And there is now a serious increase in the departures for Greek islands,” Erarslan said.