Refused entry to Europe due to travel restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, tourists veer toward Turkey. The country offers vast attractions with its cuisine, natural wonders, and high-quality ski slopes.
Hit hard by the coronavirus during the summer season, Turkey hopes to offset the fallout in the tourism sector with a boom in pre-bookings for the winter season.
Turkey is popular for its heavenly seas and velvety sand under the bright sun along its Aegean and Mediterranean coasts. It also offers an unforgettable winter experience with its ski resorts covered with fluffy snow.
Among eight ski resorts in Turkey, Uludag Ski Center in northwestern Bursa and Erciyes Ski Resort in central Kayseri are popular destinations.
“Due to the travel restrictions tourists especially from Russia, Ukraine, Poland, and the Czech Republic mostly came to Turkey,” Murat Cahid Cingi, the chairman of Erciyes Ski Resort, told Anadolu Agency.
With Erciyes welcoming those tourists for the last four years, Cingi says the ski resort is seeing the largest flock from those countries.
“For the first time, Kyiv-Kayseri direct flights will start as of December 27,” he says.
“Belarus, Estonia and Latvia are also among those countries that we have received great attention this year.”
More than 2 million tourists, with 10% skiers or snowboarders, visit the resort every year, Cingi says.
Skiing in Turkey
The investments in the resort continue despite the pandemic. When the hotel constructions complete, the number of tourists accommodating at the mountain will double within two years.
Burak Beceren, a partner at Uludag Ski Center, says pre-bookings from international visitors are promising to balance the decline in domestic demand.
“Generally we host German, French, British, Belgian, or North American tourists every year. But this year visitors are mainly from Russia, Ukraine and Poland,” Beceren says.
There are flights to Bursa six times per week and tourists usually stay seven days or more at Uludag.
The partner says that the ski center management is ensuring zero contact in the midst of the pandemic.
“We have uludag.axess.shop where we sell tickets for Uludag ski runs online for the first time in Turkey. This system is limited with 3,000 tickets for this year, and it seems that we will easily sell all.”
Meanwhile, Beceren emphasizes that not only the hotels in the region but also cafes and restaurants have the “Safe Tourism Certificate”. It guarantees comprehensive safety standards in all areas.
This year, skiing clothes and some accessories are sold, instead of being rented for hygiene and sanity concerns.
The Erciyes Ski Center is one of the must-see places of Turkey in the winter season.
Not far from Cappadocia, another touristic region in Turkey famous for its fairy chimneys. With easily accessible areas and a budget-friendly policy, Mount Erciyes draws more attention.
Uludag Ski Resort welcomes 4 million tourists every year with its 7,000-bed capacity hotels and 20 ski tracks of nearly 400,000 meters.
Tourists also choose Uludag — which offers snowboarding, sledding and snow-biking — for the New Year and semester holidays.