Half a million people flew in Cappadocia balloons in 2015
NEVŞEHİR - Anadolu Agency
AA PhotosLast year almost half a million tourists viewed the Cappadocia region in central Turkey from its symbolic hot air balloons.
The Cappadocia region is visited by around 2.5 million local and foreign tourists every year, with around a fifth of these visitors opting to take a balloon flight.
Balloon trips are generally take flight from the Göreme district of Nevşehir province in the early morning hours, when the weather conditions are clearest. From the air tourists view Cappadocia’s stunning natural landscape including its famous fairy chimneys.
Göreme Mayor Nuri Cingil says hot air balloon flights occur on around 300 days every year, depending on weather conditions. In high season as many as 150 balloons take off each day.
“In 2014, flights took place on 319 days and 434,639 people viewed the region from the air in 26,708 balloons. In 2015 there were flights on 266 days and 498,812 people traveled in 27,775 balloons. So interest increased by 14 percent in 2015 from 2014,” Cingil said.
Average of 100 balloons taking off each day in Göreme
Cingil said Göreme is the number one place in the world in terms of the number of flights per day, adding that images of the colorful balloons were very important in Turkey’s touristic promotion.
“Hot air balloon flights generally take place in the morning hours and sometimes in the afternoon depending on reservations. Overall there are 180 hot air balloons used in the region,” he added.
“According to writers, editors and the online voting of Lonely Planet, Cappadocia is among the top places for honeymoon destinations. It has also been chosen as one of the best locations to propose marriage. We receive many demands to hold events from people who want to propose marriage in hot air balloons. This is very important for the promotion of Turkey and Cappadocia,” Cingil said.
Increase in the number of Chinese tourists
Mehmet Dinler, the general director of a hot air balloon company in the region, said flights were canceled because of bad weather conditions on 99 days last year, with 60 days in the first four months.
Local and foreign tourists typically spend two nights in Cappadocia during trips to the region, Dinler added.
“When a flight day is canceled, guests can try on the next day. But if flights are canceled on two consecutive days, these visitors are unfortunately unable to take a balloon trip before leaving,” he said.
Dinler also suggested that the number of Chinese tourists rose considerably last year.
“The reason why the number of tourists increased in 2015 was the increase in convenience in e-visa applications for Chinese tourists. They were the locomotive of Cappadocia tourism last year, but unfortunately the situation is not the same this year at the moment,” he added.
Turkey’s tourism sector has seen a sharp drop this year amid economic trouble in its major markets, security concerns, and geopolitical uncertainty.