Çanakkale islands hopeful for winter tourism
On the two islands, which are hotspots in the summer months due to their unspoiled nature and golden sands, the summer season lasts four months. Now the goal is to extend it to the winter season, too.
The biggest island in Turkey, Gökçeada, which spans an area of 285 square kilometers, is always full in the summers. The island has become one of the most important destinations for windsurfing enthusiasts with its 92-kilometer coastline.
Ten facilities with certificates from the ministry have a capacity of 378 beds in 186 rooms. There are 266 rooms and 633 beds in 14 facilities with the municipality’s certificates. And there are 26 pensions and 189 rooms with 459 beds.
Bozcaada, which is the only district in Turkey without a village, is the third largest island in the country. The island, one of the most important centers of viniculture and grape cultivation with its 40 square kilometer surface, hosts hundreds of thousands of local and foreign tourists during the summer season.
Five facilities on the island with operating licenses from the ministry have 60 rooms and a 126-bed capacity. Fifty-three facilities with municipal certifications serve with a total of 1,390 beds in 633 rooms. The 139 guesthouse hosts guests with 835 rooms and 904 beds.
Speaking to state-run Anadolu Agency, Bozcaada Mayor Hakan Can Yılmaz said their long-term goal was to serve for 12 months a year.
“Because Bozcaada is not just a tourist resort, it is a district and an island where Greek and Turkish peoples have shared experiences for many years. We are doing many things to extend this tourism, especially starting from the spring season. This includes important sports organizations, squid festivals and film festivals. In the coming days, we are planning to make fishing and sea-related events,” Yılmaz said.
He said they received reservations prior to the semester break as those who want to be away from the stress of metropolitans come to Bozcaada. Stating that they had many summer tourism activities, Yılmaz reiterated they were working to draw more people in winter, too.
“The revival of tourism in Bozcaada increases the economic input of the tradesmen and the people here. We have many plans in mind as the local government. In the clearest way, we want to make Bozcaada popular for 12 months. We are trying to make this with activity tourism. But this is an island and people worry that they cannot leave the island in case of a strong southwester.
Officials at Gestaş, a navigation company running the ferries to and from Çanakkale, have a solution for this problem. They renewed the ferries in the last few years, making them durable against strong winds. “We think that Bozcaada will become a center of attraction in winter after such problems are solved,” Yılmaz said.
Gökçeada Mayor Ünal Çetin said the island was an important tourism center, adding, “Gökçeada is ready to become the capital of winter tourism.”
“Gökçeada is one of the most important tourism locations in the world. Çanakkale’s tourism share is very low. This is why I think that a 100-year plan should be done. Çanakkale is home to the ancient city of Troy, two islands, Kaz Mountains, a sea and a strait,” Çetin added.
Stating that the island was on the way to become a brand in the field of winter sports, Çetin said that windsurfing was possible on the island until the end of November and that they hosted tourists particularly from Romania, Bulgaria and Greece.
“Here, we need facilities that support onsite consumption. We need facilities which produce and consume here. People coming here eat organic and natural products. It will be very important for them to choose Gökçeada. The closest Greek islands to us, Limnos and Samothrace, have thermal water. Researches show that Gökçeada has thermal water, too. We need to conduct a serious research about it. Thermal water will extend winter tourism to 12 months. Gökçeada is the biggest island in Turkey and it is located in the very west. Such an important location will make great contributions to the Turkish economy.”