Halfeti targets to draw 1 mln tourists in new season

Halfeti targets to draw 1 mln tourists in new season

Halfeti targets to draw 1 mln tourists in new season

A coastal town located in the middle of the southeastern steppe in the province of Şanlıurfa, the Halfeti district welcomes thousands of visitors each year with its mystical historical structure and natural beauties, and now is striving to increase the number of visitors this spring season.

Halfeti, a part of which is flooded by the Birecik Dam built on the Euphrates River, was included in the “slow city” network by Cittaslow International Coordination Committee in 2013 thanks to its calm and peaceful feature and gained a completely different outlook with people getting drawn to visit the place, especially in the spring season.

In the district, dubbed as the “hidden paradise” of southeastern Turkey due to its historic stone houses and natural beauties, tourists take a boat tour to the “sunken city,” a part of which is underwater. During these boat tours, tourists get the opportunity to witness the glory of Rumkale Castle, which once hosted many civilizations, even from a distance.

The district’s Savaşan village, where the minaret of an underwater mosque and abandoned old buildings are located, is also among the places of interest in the region. Visitors who visit the Grand Mosque, part of which is underwater, also get the opportunity to see the “Karagül” plant, which only grows in Halfeti in the world.

Though the district hosted a small number of tourists last year due to the COVID-19 outbreak, it became one of the popular places for visitors, especially on weekends, as it was included in the “low risk” category on the country’s COVID-19 risk map.

Speaking to the state-run Anadolu Agency, Halfeti Mayor Şeref Albayrak said that Halfeti has been an important tourism center in the southeast region and reached the highest number of visitors in 2019.

Stating that there was a decrease in tourism in Halfeti due to the pandemic last year, Albayrak said: “Last year, tourism activity in Halfeti decreased by 30 percent. With the new normalization process and lifting of weekend bans, the city has started to welcome tourists once again as it is in the low-risk category.”

Noting that boat tours are popular in the district, Albayrak said that visitors also showed great interest in these tours on the Euphrates River.

Stating that all areas in the district have implemented the COVID-19 measures, Albayrak said: “Our main goal is to host 1 million visitors. Of course, it is not easy to predict the course of the pandemic, but the goal will always be to reach 1 million visitors because it is located at the intersection point for visitors visiting Şanlıurfa, Göbeklitepe, Gaziantep and Adıyaman.”

“Halfeti will continue to be a center of attraction as we have strengthened the tourism infrastructure with the investments we have made in the district in recent years,” he added.

Albayrak also said that Halfeti was an important alternative for those who want to travel to a town surrounded by nature.

“Halfeti is a place where history and nature are intertwined. We invite people to visit our district to get some peace of mind as they will be away from the pandemic,” he said.