Cittaslow island Gökçeada preparing to welcome visitors

Cittaslow island Gökçeada preparing to welcome visitors

Cittaslow island Gökçeada preparing to welcome visitors

Gökçeada, the world’s first Cittaslow island, in the western province of Çanakkale is preparing to welcome visitors this summer.

Located in the westernmost point of the country and formerly known as Imbros, the 279-kilometers-square Gökçeada is also Turkey’s largest island. It has always been one of the most well-known tourist attractions for both local and international travelers.

The island is an ideal spot for windsurfing, luring kite surfers and kiteboard riders from Greece, Bulgaria and Romania in recent years with its strong and steady winds.

However, this year Gökçeada will welcome its visitors under the COVID-19 pandemic, as was the case in 2020.

“Last year and this year, we had restrictions on the island due to the pandemic. But 2020 was still a good year for Gökçeada in terms of tourism activity; there was a great interest from holidaymakers,” said Ünal Çetin, its mayor.

The new tourist season in Gökçeada will kick off even before June 1 when Turkey is expected to move to the normalization phase, Çetin said, noting that he awaits the island to attract large numbers of local tourists this season.

“We will host our guests in a very isolated environment,” he said.

Venues have completed their preparations to welcome visitors in line with anti-virus measures, said Murat Çureban, the general manager of a local hotel.

“The full lockdown period offered an opportunity for hotels and other tourist sites to finalize their arrangements,” he added.

Çureban said that his establishment trained the newly joined staff for the anti-virus rules to be followed.

Gökçeada has smaller accommodation facilities, offering a more pleasant stay for holidaymakers, according to İpek Dağınık, owner of a boutique hotel on the island.

“There are no huge hotels here. People feel at home when facilities are small. They have more personal space, and there are lots of outdoor places,” she added.

Last year, the interest of tourists in the island grew amid the pandemic as it benefited from being an “isolated holiday destination.”

Its geographical location also works to the island’s advantage. It is close to and easily accessible from Istanbul, İzmir, the country’s third-largest city by population, as well as from the industrial city of Bursa.