Visitors rush to Halfeti lying in middle of steppe
Despite being located in the middle of the southeastern steppe, Şanlıurfa’s Halfeti district, which is like a coastal city thanks to the Birecik Dam Lake, attracts the attention of visitors who wish to spend time in nature.
Submerged under the waters of the Birecik Dam, a part of which was built on the Euphrates, Halfeti is included in the “calm city” network by the Cittaslow International Coordination Committee in 2013, fascinating people with its calm and peaceful feature.
Also described as the “hidden paradise” of the southeast with its historical stone houses and natural beauties, the district is visited by both local and foreign tourists.
With boat tours in the dam lake, visitors have the opportunity to see the “sunken city,” which is mostly underwater; Rumkale, which has been home to many civilizations; a minaret of the mosque that remained underwater; and the Savaşan district, where there are many abandoned old buildings.
The district was visited by a small number of tourists last year due to the COVID-19 measures. But this year, visitors have been rushing to the district to spend time in nature, especially away from crowded environments.
In the district, where it is almost impossible to find a place, especially on weekends, in hotels, boat tours and restaurants, meters long queues of vehicles can be seen despite a new parking area created.
Speaking to the state-run Anadolu Agency, Halfeti District Governor Selami Korkutata said that Halfeti has been a shining tourism destination in the region for the past 10 years.
Korkutata stated that Halfeti has an important place in the tours organized to the region, adding, “Before the pandemic, the number of visitors had reached 1 million people. Due to the pandemic, there has been a significant decrease in the number of visitors in the last two years. We saw that tourists started coming here again following the steps of normalization. Halfeti hosts our guests in the best way. We plan to increase the service quality and the number of visitors day by day.”
Korkutata emphasized that Halfeti holds important features for visitors to visit and see thanks to its history, nature, endemic plants and many other features.
Noting that the district hosted a record number of visitors during the Eid al-Adha, he said: “During this period, we hosted approximately 70,000 visitors. It was a little difficult for Halfeti to host this number of guests at the same period, but they were very pleased during their visit. Recently, international tourism has also been revived. Halfeti gets its share from this revival. Hopefully, we will host more tourists in the future.”
Ercan Yılmaz, the manager of a hotel in the district, also stated that they were having a good season.
“Currently, the occupancy rate of our hotel is around 85 percent. We are experiencing the busiest period since the pandemic began. Especially on weekends, this number doubles. We expect to reach higher occupancy rates with the end of the pandemic,” Yılmaz said.