Turkish cities and resorts are expecting an unprecedented boost in tourism since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, as they prepare for an influx for the upcoming Ramadan Bayram.
Locals and foreign tourists are set to pack hotels, particularly in the southern Mediterranean tourist gem of Antalya, where industry officials say bookings for the holiday, also known as Eid al-Fıtr, have soared and occupancy rates have already reached 80% on average with one more week to go.
Turkey closed its facilities in 2020 due to the pandemic, implementing a curfew last year.
“After a two-year break, this will be the most dynamic Ramadan Bayram. This period will be a real party for us,” said Kaan Kavaloğlu, deputy director of the Association of Tourist Hoteliers of the Mediterranean (AKTOB).
The three-day Ramadan Bayram will begin on Monday, May 2, but many plan to embark on their journeys from Friday, April 29.
Ülkay Atmaca, head of the Turkish Association of Professional Hotel Managers (POYD), echoed Kavaloğlu’s remarks, pointing to the intense demand.
Yet the industry’s eyes are still on Russia and Ukraine, Turkey’s main tourist sources.
Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine is expected to impact the crucial industry, just as the travel sector was looking to rebound from the pandemic.
Russians and Ukrainians are the country’s first and third largest source of visitors, respectively. Russians accounted for 19% of foreign visitors in 2021, with 4.7 million people, while Ukraine was third at 8.3% with 2.1 million people.
The military campaign prompted some hotels to postpone their openings, Kavaloğlu said.
“Almost all hotels open with Eid al-Fitr. It will thus offer hotels an occupancy rate of 80% on average. This is a very important occupancy rate for this period,” he said. told Anadolu Agency (AA).
“It will be a very good Ramadan Bayram. Vacationers have a high demand for vacations,” Atmaca said.
Hacı Osman Üçdan, chairman of the board of the luxury hotel group Granada, said they were fully booked for Ramadan Bayram.
“We cannot take new bookings as we are 100% full for Ramadan Bayram,” Üçdan noted.
Cem Kınay, a famous tourism pioneer, pointed out that global travel is on track to return to normal levels after the pandemic and this is also reflected in Turkey.
Officials had hoped that with the easing of pandemic restrictions, tourism could replicate or surpass figures from 2019, when some 52 million visitors – including about 7 million Russians and 1.6 million Ukrainians – reported 34 billions of dollars in revenue.
“Eid will be celebrated as a return to the pre-pandemic period,” Kınay noted.