Turkey’s Cappadocia sees upbeat in tourism as visitors numbers soar
Published: Oct 07, 2022 07:32 PM
Tour operators are upbeat about the future of the local tourism industry following a big rise in the number of visitors this year to Cappadocia, a popular tourist destination in central Turkish known for its distinctive volcanic geographical formations and hot air balloon rides.

With valleys of natural rock formations, underground settlements, cave hotels and historic monasteries carved in rocks, Cappadocia is witnessing a rebound in the number of both domestic and foreign visitors, Barcin Gezer, a representative from Travel Tours, an Ankara-based travel agency that specializes in cultural tours, told Xinhua in a recent interview.

According to statistics issued by the Turkish Statistical Institute (TUIK) on September 22, Cappadocia has hosted a record-breaking 2.5 million tourists in the first eight months in the year of 2022, nearly doubling the number of visitors during the same period in 2021.

"Germans, French, and British have made significant reservations for this year, and we expect that they will continue to do so through the winter and Christmas," added Gezer.

Like all of Turkey's tourist hotspots, Cappadocia, which is about 300 kilometers southeast of Turkish capital Ankara, was adversely affected by the travel bans and lockdowns that were implemented internationally following the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Gezer, the number of both Turkish and foreign visitors to the region increased after travel restrictions in European countries and Turkey were loosened since the start of 2022.

Halis Aydogan, owner of balloon manufacturer Pasha Balloons, said that more tourists are expected to take hot-air balloon rides in the region than that of 2021. According to statistics released by the Turkish Ministry of Tourism and Culture and TUIK at the end of 2019, about 600,000 people took hot-air balloon rides in the area in 2019.

"This year... with data at the end of the season, we will beat these numbers," Aydogan noted.

Due to the region's ideal weather, Cappadocia is one of the few locations in the world where visitors may take balloon rides almost all year long, according to the Turkish Ministry of Tourism and Culture.

There is no other area other than Cappadocia where 3,000 people can fly balloons daily, according to Aydogan.

Approximately 240 balloons have been registered in the area so far, with up to 156 balloons flying on any given day, he noted.

"After the epidemic, we set the 2019 (tourist) number as our goal for this year, and we have surpassed it. Right now, reservations are flying in. The busy time will last until early November," said Muzaffer Buyukbas, an owner of a local travel agency.

"Cappadocia is enjoying a good tourism season this year, and the local tourism industry anticipates busier years in 2023 and 2024 as a result of the growing market," said Talip Aldemir, a representative of the Turkish Travel Agencies Association.