Resorts set to swell this winter as Istanbul residents flee the city

Turkey's resorts are generally quiet over the winter. Sun beds are packed away and pools covered as the seaside towns bunker down for the off season.

Not this year. Officials are anticipating a huge rise in population as Istanbul residents, tired of the city after quarantining during the warmer months, plan to stay in their holiday homes over the winter.

Populations in the resort towns nearest Istanbul, like Sarkoy and Marama Ereglisi, are predicted to grow by as much as six-fold as vacationers prepare to spend the off season in the resorts.

Read more:  Despite pandemic, 15 billion USD predicted from tourism in 2020

Sarkoy Mayor Alpay Var said Sarkoy, which usually has a population of around 32,000, is expected to host about 100,000 people this winter.

In Marmara Ereglisi, home to 26,000, the numbers are also expected to rise in the offseason. 

“We expect to host 150,000 people this winter due to the rise in the coronavirus cases,” said district mayor Hikmet Ata

These holidayers are making winter preparations: stockpiling wood or coal, ordering natural gas and carrying out renovations, Ata said.

Istanbul resident Ayten Gulgun will stay in Sarkoy this winter. “When the pandemic began in March, we were stuck in our house in Istanbul for four months. We do not want to go back. We will spend the winter here.” 

Marama Ereglisi holiday home owner Kader Gungor, who usually lives in Istanbul, said there was more freedom out of the city. “We are more free and relaxed here, so why go back?” 

The temporary population swell is good news for the small local economies who will benefit from the Istanbul residents. 

Business owner Mehmet Ali Cakmak said markets usually shut down over the winter, but this year his shop will remain open. Tradespeople are reporting business is up, as they complete services and ready homes for the offseason.


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