Tourists flock to Cappadocia to enjoy hot air balloon rides
NEVŞEHİR - Anadolu Agency
The number of tourists that took part in hot air balloon tours in the skies of Cappadocia in the central Anatolian province of Nevşehir increased by 87 percent to 226,000 people in the first half of this year compared to the same period of 2017.
Cappadocia is one of the world’s most active hot air balloon hubs.
Data from the Civilian Aviation Directorate showed that a total of 12,800 hot air balloon flights took place in the popular tourist destination. In June alone, 52,140 people took to the skies within Cappadocia, which is also famous for its fairy chimneys, natural rock formations, underground cities and boutique hotels carved into rocks. The corresponding figures were 24,151, 56,672 and 55,759 in the months of March, April and May, respectively.
Balloon tours had be to cancelled for 81 days in the first six months of the year due to bad weather conditions, but flights continued in the remaining 100 days in the Göreme region.
Hot air balloon tours are a boost to local tourism, generating a significant amount of revenues. Each balloon tour costs between 130 and 170 euros. In the first half of the year a total of 33 million euros of revenue was generated from the balloon tours.
In the first half of 2017, a total of 120,000 tourists took part in hot air balloon tours. Revenues from those tours amounted to 18 million euros.
Strong interest from tourists
Turkish Travel Agencies Union (TURSAB) Cappadocia Regional Executive Board President Coşkun Kırtıl said it has been a very “fruitful” year so far for local tourism activities.
“The demand is so strong that some tourists cannot even book for the hot balloon tours,” Kırtıl said, adding that the region is likely to enjoy such strong demand from tourists in the second half of the year.
There are 25 companies that organize hot air balloon tours and the tour fairs are below world average, Kırtıl noted.
“In other parts of the world, such balloon tours are organized. For instance, in Africa such hot air balloon tours are sold at $600. In Tanzania, you cannot see the wildlife on the ground while cruising in the sky. You cannot find such a wonderful view that Cappadocia offers anywhere else. Cappadocia is very unique. Hot balloons take off at sunrise. People watch the fairy chimneys, wonderful valleys below,” he said.
During the rides visitors can fly up to a kilometer above ground.
According to Kırtıl, hot balloons have become the trademark of Turkey and Cappadocia.