Blue Flag heralds new beach for Lake Van
VAN – Anadolu AgencyTurkey’s largest lake, located in the eastern province of Van, has finally won a Blue Flag, an international standard for cleanliness and safety, heralding that the city’s first beach was on the way in a move to attract more tourists.
“Our application from last year finally came to a conclusion. We now have a coast with a Blue Flag at our Lake Van,” Fevzi Özgökçe, the mayor of Van’s Tuşba district, who carried out the application process with the Turkish Foundation for Environmental Education (TÜRÇEV), told Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency, adding the achievement was the result of a year-long effort.
A Blue Flag was granted to the Ayanis coast of Lake Van, some 35 kilometers from the city center, after meeting the criteria of the eco-label awarded by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) including water quality, environmental education and information, environmental management and safety.
Özgökçe also heralded the long-awaited construction of a beach around Lake Van, which has a 450-kilometer coast, one of the prime requests of locals and tourists alike.
“We will build a 200-meter-long beach here [in Ayanis]. We will provide transportation services to help people use this place more easily. Afterwards, we will create fully-equipped accommodation facilities in line with European standards,” the mayor said, adding they would swiftly carry out a range of projects in order to make Van a tourist attraction.
“Efforts are ongoing to get Blue Flags for other coasts on Lake Van,” he stated.
Meanwhile, the chair of the Eastern Anatolia Regional Executive Board of the Association of Turkish Travel Agencies (TÜRSAB), Cevdet Özgökçe, stressed the importance of building beaches to attract tourists.
“If we had a beach, more Iranians would flock to Van. A place which has a Blue Flag must also have a beach. The biggest demand of us and Iranian tourists is the construction of a beach,” Özgökçe said.
News of the Blue Flag arrived shortly after tourism professionals from both Van and neighboring Iran voiced the need to build beaches and other touristic facilities around the lake that is frequented by Iranian tourists.
“[Tourists] have to confine themselves to staring at Lake Van, which has beautiful waters. There aren’t options for people who wish to freshen up or stay around the lake for longer periods,” Iranian tour operator Vahid Rostami said, highlighting that lack of facilities hindered the area from drawing more attention from Iranians.
Last year, approximately 50,000 Iranians visited Van – located only 80 kilometers from Turkey’s border with Iran - but tourism professionals said many more could come or opt to extend their stays if the city offered more activities.