Muğla gearing up for tourism season
MUĞLA - Anadolu Agency
Muğla is Turkey’s third tourism destination after Istanbul and Antalya. Three million foreigners visit the province annually.Long one of Turkey’s biggest tourist draws, the southwestern province of Muğla is ready to entice visitors for the 2014 tourist season with its 1,484 kilometers of coasts and rich historical treasures.
Provincial Culture and Tourism Director Veli Çelik said the province was very important for Turkish tourism, adding that the region had a capacity of 250,000 beds. “Muğla is the third tourism destination after Istanbul and Antalya [in Turkey]. Three million foreigners visit the province annually. They are a source of over 3 billion dollars. Our goal is to reach 5 million visitors in accordance with the 2023 Tourism Strategy Plan of the ministry,” he said.
But Çelik said Muğla had failed to capitalize on its cultural wealth as much as its sun, sea and sand, adding that the ministry’s strategy plan focused on highlighting cultural activities.
He said that in the first four months of the year, 143,000 tourists had arrived in the province by air and sea, mostly from Britain, Greece, Germany, Russia and France, noting that the figure represented a 22 percent increase in comparison to the same period of last year.
The director said tourism preparations were focused on increasing the quality of what is on offer. “We will hold meetings with the sector and nongovernment organizational representatives in certain regions. We will provide coordination for a better season and eliminate the deficiencies in tourism facilities. We plan to form a Tourism Provincial Coordination. Muğla will become a more important destination for our country,” he said. Çelik said their next goal would be northern markets since they have a high national income. “We have begun drawing tourists from these countries. It will help us create a balanced market policy. When trouble occurs in some countries that send us tourists, we want to meet this deficiency with tourists from other countries.”
‘We expect a good season’
Turkish Hoteliers Federation Deputy President and Fethiye Hoteliers Union President Yavuz Torunoğulları said Muğla was ready for the summer season across the board, adding that they were expecting a better season than last year.
“We expect that the market will be positively affected since Russia changed its mind on its Ukrainian policy. What is happening will affect the number of people both in Russia and Ukraine. There is a settled number in markets like in the Netherlands and Belgium. When we consider the reservation works of tour operators and the data so far, it seems this season will be better than 2013,” Torunoğulları said.
He said the province’s Fethiye district had a bed capacity of 48,000 but that they hoped to supplement this total with 7,000 more beds as the area occasionally runs out of vacancy.
Speaking about the problem of qualified personnel, Torunoğulları said: “The number of foreign-language-speaking personnel is few. Everyone has the same problem in the region, according to sector representatives. The current English-speaking personnel, who are few in number, do not put in the effort to improve themselves because there is no competition.”
Season opens in Bodrum
The Turkish Travel Agencies Union Chair Sevinç Gökbel said the summer season opened in Bodrum in April but added that the sector had not entirely completed its preparations for the new season. “We have a shortage of qualified personnel, which is our most important problem in all facilities.”
Gökbel said they expected more tourists from Scandinavian and northern countries in the new season. “There is a constant fall in the British market. This country is a significant target for Bodrum tourism … Thanks to the promotional events, we can see tourists from China or India in the region.”