- As countries begin to try to recuperate from COVID-19, Turkey has set its sights on wedding tourism.
- A board member of the Association of Turkish Travel Agencies said weddings are more profitable than any other type of tourism.
- International wedding owners are increasingly showing preference for Turkey’s Mediterranean and Aegean costal resort towns.
World Tourism Network (WTN) and Nancy Barkley, WTN Coordinator for Wedding Tourism, supports Turkey’s tourism sector as it turns to international wedding organizations to maintain recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2019, Turkey’s tourism revenues had hit a record high of US$34.5 billion with more than 45 million foreign visitors. In 2020, however, the country’s losses hit 70% due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, Turkey’s tourism sector is turning to international wedding organizations this year to maintain recovery from the adverse effects of the ongoing pandemic.
“Wedding organizations are more profitable than other types of tourism,” Nalan Yesilyurt, a board member of the Association of Turkish Travel Agencies, told Xinhua. “The money spent in a week alone during such organizations is equal to what regular tourists spend in a month.”
She said foreign wedding owners increasingly prefer Turkey’s Mediterranean and Aegean coastal resort towns that offer “unique and exclusive” services in upper segment hotels, marinas, and restaurants. “Bodrum (in the southwestern province of Mugla) has shined like a star mostly with its vivid nightlife, qualified marinas, which attract jet society yachts and restaurants with celebrity chefs,” Yesilyurt said.
Bodrum’s Mayor Ahmet Aras said that Bodrum is in high demand in many European and Far Eastern countries, and it also gets recognition from Arab and Middle Eastern countries. The town possesses grandiose and boutique hotels with over 1,000-bed capacities.
“Despite the pandemic conditions and restrictions, Bodrum hosted 6 wedding organizations from India this year, which were very promising for the future,” he said. The municipality has been conducting talks with several international organizing companies to secure more wedding ceremonies in the upcoming period.
“Having foreign wedding ceremonies during the off-season when the hotel occupancy rates are low, significantly contributes to the tourism sector in Bodrum, generating income and boosting job opportunities. Visitors who come to Bodrum for weddings do not only spend their time at their hotels but also go shopping and dining, doing a lot of activities,” he added.
Indian wedding ceremonies are significantly profitable for the locals as wedding owners spare no expense to make their guests comfortable, according to the Mayor. “They usually book the entire hotel for their guests, who come to the town with big chartered planes,” he added.
They usually spend a week and enjoy the natural and cultural beauties of the region. Renting yachts and having boat tours to see the untouched bays are becoming the most popular activities among visitors.
With the addition of more direct international flights from different parts of the world in the upcoming period to the Bodrum airport, the town expects to pull more “luxury tourists.”
The fast spread of the daily COVID-19 cases across the country, however, worries tourism representatives and local officials. “Any reservation cancellation would mean a huge loss for the entire industry,” Aras said.
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