Hot air balloons boost tourism in central Turkey despite accidents
NEVŞEHİRDespite a number of fatal accidents earlier this year, hot air balloon tours in the sky of central Turkey’s popular tourism destination Cappadocia continued to attract a large number of tourists and boost the revenue from tourism in the region.
“Around 120,000 people have explored Cappadocia from the air in the first half of this year, contributing 18 million euros [around $20.5 million] to the economy” Cappadocia Touristic Entrepreneurs Association (KAPTID) head Yakup Dinler told state-run Anadolu Agency.
Dinler said he expected a total of 300,000 people to experience hot air balloon tours by the end of this year and expected to finish the year with 40 million euros ($45.6 million) in revenue.
Following a bad year for Turkey’s tourism, affected by several terror attacks and a deadly coup attempt in 2016, the tourism sector has entered a recovery process this year.
“There is a slight increase [in the number of international tourists] compared with the last year,” he added.
Dinler said 25 hot air balloon agencies provide job facilities for nearly 2,500 people in Cappadocia.
He underlined that hot air balloon tour prices in Cappadocia were not as high as it is popularly assumed.
Almost all foreign tourists, mainly from Far East countries, find hot air balloon prices very affordable.
Cappadocia, located in the Anatolian region of Turkey, is preserved as a UNESCO World Heritage site and is famous for its chimney rocks, hot air balloon trips, underground cities and boutique hotels carved into rocks.
To get the authentic experience, tourists from all over the world prefer to experience Cappadocia’s landscapes and peak-like rock houses from up in the sky.
Three major balloon accidents took place in the region earlier this year, resulting in the deaths of two people and wounding 50 others, making many tourists hesitant to take balloon tours.
Measures to maintain monitoring of hot air balloon tours include GPS tracking, allowing the speed limit and distance of the balloons to be detected.
Along with its unique natural landscape, Cappadocia is also famous for its authentic Turkish restaurants and offers samples of international cuisines in dozens of dining spots.
The region has been used as a natural film set for many film producers in the past.
National air carrier Turkish Airlines offers daily flights to the Cappadocia region from Istanbul.