Energy crisis will doping Turkish tourism: First unconstrained winter benefited Turkey

Selenay YAGCI /ISTANBUL

Tourism professionals are preparing for the busiest winter of the last 3 years after the pandemic. The first winter season to be experienced without pandemic restrictions will be intense. The figures for 2019 were captured in reservations. Especially in November, there is a 50 percent increase in reservations. Tourism professionals, who have been waiting for the winter season with categories such as skiing, health, football, golf, congress and events for many years, have increased their expectations with the energy crisis in Europe.

Preparations are being made for European retirees to prefer a holiday in Turkey this winter. With the energy crisis, the number of retired tourists that Turkey has been hosting for many years during the winter months is expected to increase a little more this year. While some tourism professionals argue that especially German retirees will flock to Turkey; some of them approached this situation cautiously and pointed out that the winter tourism movement could not only be attributed to the gas shortage, but that it was the first winter season to be experienced after the pandemic restrictions. According to the tour operators that bring tourists to Turkey, it is expected that 1 to 3 million Europeans will prefer Turkey for their winter holidays with the current flight capacity. Waiting for the gas crisis to turn into an opportunity for tourism, some hotels plan to be open in winter. In fact, some hotels that want to reduce costs are turning their concept into hostels. European retirees are expected to come to Antalya more. This activity will not be reflected in Southern Aegean regions such as Dalaman and Marmaris due to the lack of flights in winter. Tourism professionals in the region say that if flights start, they can keep their hotels open in winter.

Since 2014, efforts have been made to extend the season in Turkey. Many hotels, which were previously closed at the end of September, are now extending the season until November. In many regions of Antalya, the season has increased to 12 months. However, the season could not spread to 12 months in Turkey. In addition to tourism types such as golf and football, health tourism has come to the fore in the last period, while the most demand in winter comes from England, Germany, the Netherlands and Central European countries, while holiday plans are usually for two weeks. In November last year, 1 million 763 thousand 982 tourists visited Turkey in total. This figure is 19 percent below pre-pandemic 2019. This year’s November bookings seem to have caught 2019. In the list of countries sending visitors in November last year, Russia (192,809) ranked first, followed by Bulgaria (159,237), and Germany (152,026) ranked third. In December, the total number of foreign visitors to Turkey was 1.89 million. This figure remained below 67.4% in December 2019. In December, Bulgaria ranked first, followed by Germany and Iran.

“Deferred holiday demands will be effective”

TÜROFED Vice President Tunç Batum said that after two years of pandemic restrictions, the demand for deferred holidays, purchased but deferred holidays are effective this winter season, and that real demands can be seen in 2023. Batumi stated that they are cautious about the fact that retired Germans will take more vacations in Turkey due to the energy crisis and said, “An energy corridor has been created with Azerbaijan, America is creating electric heating solutions that will support Europe with liquid gas, so they are trying to find various alternatives.” Stating that for many years, retired tourism, that is, tourists over the age of 65, come especially to the cheap regions of Antalya for long-term winter holidays, Batumi made the following statement: “It was sold as shopping tourism. Instead of closing them in November, hotels sell room packages to these tourists for 20 euros in order to cover their winter costs and spend the winter without loss. In this respect, Antalya is very lucky. Direct flights continue in winter. Thus, they can turn the gas crisis into an advantage. For example TGA or tourism ministry can be understood with pension funds in Germany. Pension funds can pay the salary as a vacation. This type of thing has happened before through tour operators. The pension fund paid for one month’s vacation. If pension funds can guarantee more retired tourists, more hotels can spend the winter open.”

Batumi, emphasizing that direct flights in the South Aegean end in the winter period, said, “There is usually mice tourism in November. After that, many hotels in this area are closing. For example, Christmas is a very important market for winter tourism. If there are flights to this region, many hotels in this region will not close, the season can be extended to 12 months. Especially if flights from England continue, we will open our hotels. Some hotels in Dalaman, Marmaris region are not open even in October and November.”

“The movement is not directly related to the natural gas shortage”

Noting that no one will say ‘Let’s take a ski vacation’ due to the natural gas shortage, Turkish Travel Agencies Association (TÜRSAB) President Firuz Bağlıkaya said, “Travels have just opened this year. People have a longing. There is tourism activity all over the world as a result. This year will be the first unrestricted winter. This mobility is double that of 2019 in European countries. We got 2019 too. Therefore, we expect intensity in terms of winter tourism, but this mobilization is not directly related to natural gas,” he said. Baglikaya said, “The German government’s financial aid to the public due to the increasing energy prices can bring a dynamism to the Antalya-Side region. There may be German retired tourists who want to spend the winter in warmer countries and are motivated by the shortage of natural gas, especially in the Spain-Greece-Turkey basin. There are already German retirees who prefer Turkey every winter. For this reason, Turkish tourism will get its share from this business,” he said.

“It will be the most active winter of 3 years”

Noting that product and market diversification studies are carried out to improve winter tourism, Mediterranean Touristic Hoteliers and Operators Association (AKTOB) President Erkan Yağcı said: “When we look at the developments in Europe, we will experience the most active winter tourism of the last 3 years. This expectation did not occur only because of the energy crisis in Europe. We were already hosting many European tourists within the framework of winter tourism. In addition, we supported the winter season with health, football, golf, congress and event tourism. But this is also a fact; Antalya is the most important candidate that needs to be compensated for the demand that has arisen in the face of the latest situation in Europe. We anticipate that November will be a good month in Antalya, especially in the European and British markets. We also see a revival in the meeting and event segment. Then we have Christmas ahead of us. Football tourism is high in the January-February period. In winter tourism, the entire European market is our target. Germany, England, the Netherlands, Belgium and Scandinavian countries will stand out for winter tourism.”

“It is difficult to predict how the energy crisis will reflect”

Ferit Turgut, President of TÜRSAB Mediterranean Regional Representative Group, said, “Obviously, what is happening in Europe? energy It is difficult to predict exactly how the crisis will affect the tourism sector. But I can clearly say that this year we will have the most active winter tourism of the last 3 years. Turkey will get ahead of its competitors, especially with its understanding of quality tourism and price balance. We think that especially Northern European countries will prefer Turkey for their holidays as of winter. The peak season normally ends at the end of October. Bookings are starting to come in for 15-20 November now. We expect good things to happen in winter too. We expect it to be the busiest winter tourism season of recent years. If the season gets longer, it contributes to employment. We have all kinds of infrastructure and bed capacity. If we can achieve tourism for 12 months, we will not have any problems in employment,” he said.

“TURKEY HAS A PRICE ADVANTAGE”

Saying that not every region in Turkey is a cheap destination, Bentour CEO Deniz Uğur said, “Prices are higher in competing countries such as Spain and Greece. This puts Turkey in an advantageous position. These three countries receive 70 percent of sea-sand-sun vacationers in Germany. Therefore, Turkey will take a part of the market share of these countries,” he said. Expressing that tour operators in Germany sell long-stay Turkey holiday packages, Uğur said that 1 million German tourists may come to Turkey this winter.

“DIFFICULT TO DETERMINATE A TREND FOR WINTER”

German Travel Agencies Association (DRV) Spokesperson Torsten Schäfer told DW Türkçe that school holidays still continue in many states, people do not return from summer vacation and reservations are not fully started even for the autumn holiday in October, and Germans often take action at the last minute. emphasizes the passing. Therefore, he states that it is impossible to determine a trend for the next winter. According to the information provided by the German Travel Association (DRV), these holidays are a type of travel that a small group has been interested in for years. Turkey, Tunisia, Egypt, the Canary Islands and Thailand are the leading destinations during the said holidays where the winter months are spent.

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