Turkey to welcome European tourists fleeing rising winter heating bills

ANKARA: Turkey is promoting a mild winter stay along its southern Mediterranean coast for European tourists, as a harsh winter looms amid the continent’s protracted energy crisis.

Europeans are bracing for much higher household heating bills for the coming season as their countries continue to bear the brunt of natural gas shortages triggered by the Russian-Ukrainian war, Xinhua news agency reports.

Turkish industry insiders told Xinhua that thousands of hotels along the Mediterranean coast were preparing to leave up to 50% of their capacity to accommodate what they called “energy tourists” from Europe, including retirees and professionals working remotely.

“Given the energy crisis in Europe, people from most of the continent should also be interested in our winter long stay offer,” Burhan Sili, chairman of the Alanya Tourist Hotel Association, said in a statement. Turkey’s popular destination, Antalya province.

Erkan Yagci, president of the Association of Mediterranean Hoteliers and Tourism Investors, said advance bookings show November will be very busy, and this is particularly the case for European tourists.

Germany, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Belgium and the Scandinavian countries will be the main markets on the industry’s radar this winter.

“Europeans will have a choice to vacation here in a region with a mild climate rather than staying at home. I think people will definitely consider such a choice,” Sili noted.

Another selling point is a premium experience at a lower cost offered by the devaluation of the Turkish lira, compared to holiday spending in European competitors, such as Greece, Sili added.

All-inclusive packages can also protect European visitors from unexpected costs, said Esra Bilir, a tour operator in the capital Ankara.

The seasonal trend will contribute to local employment and the national economy which thrives on tourism revenue, Yagci said, adding that “Antalya is the most important candidate to meet European demand.”

Turkey is expecting a record tourist season despite the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, the energy crisis and an 80% rise in the annual inflation rate.

It recorded more tourists than in 2019, the year before the coronavirus pandemic paralyzed the world.

Yigit Bulut, senior adviser to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, tweeted earlier this month that one million European Union citizens are expected to spend this winter in Turkey.

He predicted that hotels in Istanbul, Izmir and Antalya will be full as bookings have already started.

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