Crowds of vacationers flocked to the UNESCO World Heritage Site Pamukkale, known as the ‘White Paradise’, in Denizli province in western Turkey. The number of visitors has almost doubled from last year despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, giving a much needed boost to the morale of the local tourism industry.
Some 786,387 vacationers visited Pamukkale between January 1 and August 31. The Hierapolis Archaeological Museum, in particular, attracted 11,683 visitors and the ancient city of Laodicea, also known as Laodicea on the Lycus, located 15 kilometers (9 miles) from the The museum hosted 25 643 tourists during the same period.
During the same period last year, some 393,509 tourists visited the Pamukkale region.
The area is particularly famous for its natural spring, located near the white travertine terraces. Dating from the ancient Hierapolis, this swimming pool formed naturally after a series of columns collapsed during an earthquake in 692 AD, which caused the accumulation of thermal water.
Tourism officials, meanwhile, are keeping their hopes high, predicting a further increase in numbers next year.
Denizli Hotel and Tourism Operators Association (DENTUROD) president Gazi Murat Şen told Anadolu Agency (AA) that Pamukkale almost leaves a “feast” in terms of visitor density.
Stating that demand for the region is high despite the pandemic, Şen noted that this mobility was driven by vaccination against the epidemic.
“Our white paradise has started to regain its former fame,” he said, as domestic and foreign tourists once again started flocking to the region this year as before the pandemic.
Pamukkale welcomed more than half a million visitors in the first eight months of the year, Şen said, and reservations continue to be made.
As for primary markets, he said, most tourists have come to the region from Ukraine, Germany and South America.
Since the number of cases is also dropping, “we expect Pamukkale to be one of the most visited places in Turkey next year,” he said.
“Tourism officials expect the flow of visitors to continue unabated due to the increased demand for thermal regions during the fall months,” he said.
Turan Köseoğlu, chairman of the Pamukkale regional executive committee of the Association of Turkish Travel Agencies (TÜRSAB), meanwhile said they were already approaching their target of one million tourists.
“Tourists from all over the world flock here. 2021 is a good year for Pamukkale, ”he said.