Iranians flock to Van for Black Friday shopping
Thousands of Iranians have flocked to the eastern province of Van to benefit from discounts amid the Black Friday shopping days that started on Nov. 26 and will last until the weekend.
Causing a “Black Friday crowd” at the Kapıköy Customs Gate in the province’s Saray district, many Iranians filled shopping centers and shops in the city.
According to officials, some 3,500 Iranians passed the border in their vehicles on Nov. 25 alone. Normally, around 800 people enter and exit both countries daily.
Surveillance footage showed Iranians “nearly crawling over each other while waiting for their passport control.”
While talking to the Turkish media, an Iranian tourist said he was thrilled to be in Van. “I am here for two days. I am shopping and benefiting from discounts,” he added.
According to local officials, Iranians filled all hotels in the province. “The occupancy rate of hotels is around 100 percent,” an official said.
The business owners in the province are extremely happy about the Iranian tourists’ influx.
“If they cannot find places at hotels, we can lodge them at our houses,” a business owner said while laughing.
The number of Iranians visiting Van was around 220,000 in 2016. The number doubled to 440,000 in 2017 but dwindled to 230,000 in 2018.
After a huge jump in 2019, due to the coronavirus pandemic, just 73,000 Iranians could come to Van in 2020 as the Kapıköy Customs Gate was closed for vehicle and pedestrian entries on March 24, 2020.
Turkey opened the gate a year later on May 9, but due to the rise of COVID-19 cases on the Iranian side, the gate could be fully opened on Oct. 9, triggering Iranian tourists entries.
“Just after the gate was opened, some 16,000 Iranians visited the city,” an official noted.
Nowadays, there is a Black Friday rush at the border.
“Iranian tourists are a vital point for Van,” Yunus Yüksel, the head of the Van Hotel Owners Association, told the Demirören News Agency.
“Let them come. We are waiting here to serve them,” Yüksel added.
According to official data, 98 percent of Iranians stay in the city for a minimum of one night. Only 2 percent of Iranians cross the border for a day trip.
According to statistics, the money spent in 2018 by Iranians in the city was around 231 million Turkish Liras ($19 million), while the amount spent per person was around 1,200 liras ($99).