Millions to hit roads for spring holiday
Burak Coşan - ISTANBUL
The three-day Ramadan feast has been gingered up with spring fever and the easing of the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions in Turkey, resulting in high numbers of bookings along the Mediterranean and Aegean resorts, according to tourism experts.
Muslims in Turkey, along with other Muslim populations around the world, are preparing to celebrate Eid al-Fitr on May 2, as the day marks the end of a 30-day fast during the holy month of Ramadan as well as the beginning of a three-day public holiday.
Many people have already extended the holiday to nine days by taking two days off on May 5 and 6, effectively bridging the Ramadan feast with two weekends.
“We are expecting the number of citizens joining the tourism movement during the Ramadan Feast to hit around 2 million. Thus, we forecast a [revenue] volume between 8 to 10 billion Turkish Liras [around $540 to $675 million],” said Firuz Bağlıkaya, the head of the Association of Turkish Travel Agencies (TÜRSAB).
“Among the destinations, demand is high for resorts such as Alanya, Belek, Bodrum, Çeşme, Kemer, Marmaris and Kuşadası,” he said, adding that hotels with live music venues will be particularly popular during this holiday period.
Holidaymakers have grabbed the opportunity to take a vacation, which is about 50 percent cheaper compared to the high summer season, said Mete Vardar, the head of tour operator Jolly.
Demand for hotspots in the Black Sea and the Southeastern Anatolia regions are also high, he said. “The easing of pandemic-related restrictions has ramped up demand for cultural tours. People show interest in package tours. It is especially important for the regional economies.”
Bookings are almost 30 percent up for this Ramadan Feast holiday versus those of 2019, before the pandemic tumbled the travel industry globally, Setur Domestic Operations Manager Serhat Günay said.
“People have missed having a holiday. The average number of nights in our feast holiday reservations is five. That’s a very good figure for a feast holiday,” he said, adding that the price of an overnight stay has risen to 1,700 liras ($115).
Vacationers are eager to travel all over the country, and many people will travel from the Anatolian cities to Istanbul. “People are getting used to [high] accommodation costs, but the increases in [intercity] bus ticket prices and airfares are distressing for consumers. That’s why many people prefer to use their private vehicles to travel,” Günay said.
In Antalya, the heartland of the Turkish tourism industry, the average occupancy rate for hotels that allocate rooms for domestic tourists will be nearly 80 percent, said NBK Touristic CEO Recep Yavuz, who also chairs the Antalya City Council Tourism Working Group.
The number of domestic flights per day has increased from 24 in April to 50, said İclal Kayaoğlu, the general manager of TAV Milas-Bodrum Airport, the main gateway to the world-famous southwestern resort town of Bodrum.
From today through to May 8, some 75,000 domestic passengers are expected to arrive in Bodrum, she added. In the same period, some 30,000 foreign tourists will also come to visit the historical Bodrum peninsula, according to her remarks.