No unoccupied shops left in Grand Bazaar
Burak Coşan – ISTANBUL
After seeing a recovery in numbers of foreign visitors on the back of Middle Eastern and Asian tourists, all of the shops in Istanbul’s historical Grand Bazaar have been operating with full capacity, head of a shopkeepers’ association said.
“We can say that bad days are over with the year of 2019. There’s no single unoccupied shop in the Bazaar. Moreover, some storerooms have been brought into service as shops,” Hasan Fırat, head of the Grand Bazaar shopkeepers’ association, told daily Hürriyet on July 5.
“A total of 103 shops had passed into other hands two years ago. Nowadays, people are in line to rent a place. There are 3,600 shops in the Grand Bazaar, but the number of shops passes over 4,000 when the inns are included. Particularly the jewelry and diamond shops make more business,” he said, referring to the plunge in tourist numbers in 2016 and 2017 across Turkey due to security concerns.
The lowest rent price for a shop floats around $500 on a small street of the covered market, whereas it hits $15,000 on a high street, according to Fırat.
Traditionally, the business activity in the Grand Bazaar is closely related with the number of cruise ships bringing tourists interested in upmarket products.
“Back in those days, the number of Saudi tourists was very high,” Fırat explained, saying that a Saudi tourist could spend as much as $100,000 while shopping in Turkey.
“We expect tourists who spend much more to come back. If the cruise ship port in Karaköy district reopens, the Grand Bazaar will return to the levels of the good old days more quickly. A new cruise ship port is planned to be constructed in Yenikapı. When these two ports are taken into operation, Istanbul and the Grand Bazaar neighborhood will earn more,” Fırat said.