Iranian tourists want beach, facilities around Turkey’s Lake Van
VAN – Doğan News Agency
DHA photoNearly 20,000 Iranians flocked to Turkey’s eastern province of Van to mark Eid al-Fitr this year, drawing attention to the pressing need to build beaches and other facilities in order to attract even more tourists, sector professionals have suggested.
“Van is very close to us [Iran]. It has amazing weather and a beautiful sea,” Iranian tour operator Vahid Rostami said, referring to Lake Van – Turkey’s largest lake which stretches between the eastern provinces of Bitlis and Van.
“However, [tourists] have to confine themselves to staring at Lake Van, which has beautiful waters. There aren’t options for people who wish to freshen up or stay around the lake for longer periods,” Rostami said, pointing to a lack of touristic facilities in the region and how this hindered the area from drawing more attention from Iranians.
Last year, approximately 50,000 Iranians visited Van – located only 80 kilometers from Turkey’s border with Iran - but tourism professionals said many more could come or opt to extend their stays if the city offered more activities.
“As Iranians, we want a beach constructed near Lake Van,” Rostami stated, adding long queues at the border crossing constituted a second problem that needed to be tackled.
“New arrangements need to be made for the border crossings. A lot of Iranians change their minds about coming after waiting at the border gate for hours,” the operator added.
Lake Van Basin Tourism Association chair Abdullah Tunçdemir voiced support for his Iranian colleague, expressing sorrow over falling short of offering a range of activities for Iranian tourists.
“People who come here want to go shopping. Another demand of theirs is facilities where they can rest. Unfortunately, we cannot offer sufficient options for entertainment and resting,” Tunçdemir said, specifically stressing the lack of beaches around the lake.
“There is not a single public beach around Lake Van, which has a 450-kilometer coast,” he said, adding this constituted a problem not only for Iranians but also for Turkish tourists.
“We conveyed this to officials numerous times. Public beaches and facilities must urgently be built to enable swimming in the lake, both for our people and for tourists who make a massive contribution to Van’s economy,” Tunçdemir said. “If this happens, tourists who visit Van over the summer months will stay longer.”
Turkish tourism companies have been focused on luring more Iranian tourists into the country this year amid a sharp decrease in the number of Russian tourists visiting Turkey and escalating security concerns triggered by terror attacks in Istanbul targeting foreigners.
Turkey hosted around 1.9 million tourists from Iran in 2010, although this figure regressed to 1.1 million in 2012.
Over the first half of 2016, Iran was one of the three countries that sent the highest number of tourists to Turkey, alongside Germany and Georgia.