Tourists’ interest increases in Gökçeada during ongoing pandemic phase
Çanakkale’s Gökçeada island attracts attention from visitors looking for an “isolated holiday” during the summer season, where new types of COVID-19 measures are taken.
One of the major tourist destinations on the north of the Aegean Sea and Turkey’s largest island with 279 square kilometers of area, Gökçeada has a cultural heritage and natural beauties and pristine coastal areas that attract domestic and foreign tourists.
Gökçeada, the world’s first cittaslow (calm city) island, has become one of the most preferred tourism centers, especially by families in the region, with the isolation and measures provided during the COVID-19 outbreak.
In recent years, as the area is quite windy, windsurfing and kiteboard enthusiasts also show interest in the island. Especially, athletes from Greece, Bulgaria and Romania enjoy activities on the island. Those who are interested in water sports also participate in activities at the facilities in the district.
“Controlled tourism” continues on the island with the measures taken intensively during the ongoing pandemic phase, Gökçeada Mayor Ünal Çetin told state-run Anadolu Agency.
Stating that both local governments and the people of the district are very sensitive and serious about this issue, Çetin said, “This is Turkey’s largest island, the most beautiful place where the sun sets. It is not quite right to relate the intense demand to Gökçeada with the pandemic alone, but yes, people may have chosen here to isolate themselves due to the coronavirus. In recent years, Gökçeada is Turkey’s shining star as a tourism destination.”
He explained that the tourism enterprises are completely full by the end of September according to the capacities determined by keeping the social distance measures in place.
Stating that they did not expect such intensity during the pandemic period, Çetin said, “While we thought that people were worried about going on vacation because of the virus, what we see is that there is an intense demand and reservation in all facilities in Gökçeada. This makes us extremely happy because our tradesmen were particularly affected by this pandemic phase. The active tourism season made a great contribution to everyone’s living in Gökçeada, to all facilities, as well as to our tradesmen. I believe that this demand for Gökçeada will increase every year, but we need to increase the quality of tourism here with the right steps and the right jobs.”
Many places to isolate people
A hotel manager in Gökçeada, Murat Çureban also drew attention to the well-managed pandemic phase in Gökçeada. Referring to the suitable physical conditions, Çureban said, “There are many places where people can be isolated from each other, irrespective of the intensity of the crowd, both in terms of beaches and places to visit. They can come to the island and have a holiday comfortably without worrying about a big crowd outside the ship. This is a great advantage for us. We pay attention to mask, distance and hygiene rules. In this period, I can say that we received as much demand as the last season.”
A boutique hotel owner, İpek Dağınık said that she has been operating a seven-room small facility.
Stating that they have been busy during the pandemic phase, she said, “The island is more untouched than other tourism destinations, it is larger and is preferred because it is easier for people to spend time in easier locations. Besides, considering the facilities’ features, I think they prefer the island because there are smaller hotels and hostels; people feel safer and more isolated.”