Severe winter weather across Europe
Turkey hit by big freeze
(eTN) - Extreme winter conditions have brought life to a standstill across Turkey. The biggest freeze since 30 years has grounded 180 flights on Tuesday, and on Monday 200 flights were cancelled.
The daily life of the European side of Istanbul was mainly paralyzed today and snowfalls are predicted to last until the weekend, with icy temperatures as low as Minus 27° Celsius in Southern Turkey. Meteorology officials have warned that snowfall and blizzards are likely to continue uninterrupted until February 7.
In spite of all the snow, there are bright and sunny figures regarding tourism in Turkey.
Istanbul has attracted more than 8 million during 2011 according to official data, bringing in total revenue of nearly $25 million. This is an increase of 16 percent over 2010 (6.9 million) when Istanbul was the European Capital of Culture 2010. The tourism sector is currently contributing 11 percent on economic growth, with Istanbul seeing a 30 percent increase in tourist revenue for 2010.
German travelers constituted the majority of foreign tourists visiting Istanbul in 2011. They were followed by Russians, Americans, Italians, and French tourists, reported Daily News. More than 10 million tourists traveled as part of mass tourism to Antalya, reported Hurryet .
Speaking at a conference in Ankara yesterday, Culture and Tourism Minister Ertugrul Günay said large hotels and holiday villages were cutting off tourists from the local population and should now turn to a new kind of tourism that would capitalize on the attractions of smaller places across Anatolia.
The Minister also highlighted environmental protection concerns and stressed that more Turkish hotels were poised to receive the ministry’s “green star” this year. The Green Star certificate, introduced in 2009, is given to eco-friendly hotels based on environmentally-conscious practices. Turkey already has 325 “Blue Flag” beaches, the third largest number in Europe, Günay said. He also underlined that Turkey should focus in small boutique enterprises rather than continued investment in large-scaled facilities.
Trendsetter for small and independent hotels is OZBI, the Association of Historical Hotels of Turkey, which is expanding to Anatolia this year.
Historical Hotels of Turkey is an official association representing a group "hotels with distinct features" in Turkey. Member hotels are unique properties all independently owned and managed. “The OZBI hotels are usually small hotels offering guests a personal and intimate feeling. It is the only official organization representing this new tourist trend in Turkey,” said Hasan Gülkaynak, President OZBI.
"Turkey’s approach toward the Internet has a short history that started very late considering the Internet boom in other countries. In 2003, there were only 23,000 users and happy few who could afford and enjoy the Internet, due to lack of coverage. This has changed to over 23 million Internet afficionados, with one-third of them Facebook users," said the Minister for European Union Affairs & Chief Negotiator, Egeman Bagis, in Munich last Week at the DLD Conference. Numbers are rapidly growing, as Turkey’s young and dynamic population likes to communicate.
Turkey has enjoyed a healthy demand in spite of the global economic slowdown in the hospitality sector, offering 250,000 rooms, with a further supply estimate of 120,000 rooms by 2015. However, there is a continued shortage of hotel accommodation in the budget and middle markets, with a slowdown in the hospitality sector, according to Jonathan Worsley, Chairman of Bench Events and CATHIC (Central Asia Turkey Hotel Investment Conference) in an interview to TURIZM Guncel.
Turkey has also become a very popular destination for Iranians. There used to be 10 weekly charter flights from Iran to Turkey, with a load factor of 70 to 80 percent. This number has dropped down to 30 percent lately, due to the devaluation of the rial. Iranian tourists used to spend 740,000 rials for a one-week holiday in a four-star hotel in Turkey. The price has shot up now to 1.3 million rials after the devaluation.
According to Azade Dochi, who runs a Seatravel Tourism Agency bringing Iranian tourists to Turkey, “Turkish hotels have also increased their prices, and this could lead to a drop in the number of Iranian tourists to Turkey in 2012.”
Istanbul Point Hotel General Manager Nuri Kalyoncu said, “Political problems in Iran also had an impact on tourism.” He thinks there will be a 5 to 10 percent fall in the number of Iranian tourists to Turkey in 2012. There was also talk about another new market to Istanbul - the Gulf region. For the first time, numerous Arabs from the Gulf region were flocking the fashionable streets of Istanbul this summer and during Ramadan.
Winter sports fans can be pleased, as this year, Istanbul has been nominated for the European Capital of Sports 2012. Cross-country skiing can already begin on Bospherus or downhill skiing in Istanbul - heavy snow falls have made this possible.