Turkey shapes up for a bumper ski season
In the northern province of Kars, Turkey's ski season is underway and the resorts are crowded with skiiers and snowboarders taking advantage of the first fall of snow.
Once upon a time, a ski holiday to Turkey was almost unheard of. However, As Turkey home to a varied landscape which includes some excellent ski fields, today, the country is well on the map and hotel occupancy is already at 70 percent - a record level for this time of year.
Early bookings and an increase in demand from foreign tourists have pushed occupancy rates at hotels near Turkish ski resorts ski high, according to deputy head of the Association of Turkish Travel Agencies.
“Early booking is more usual in the accommodation facilities in the Mediterranean and Aegean regions. However, early booking is now taking place at the hotels in the ski resorts. As of today, we reached an occupancy rate of 70 percent in the ski centers,” he told Anadolu Agency.
The coming weeks would see even more people don ski gear and hit the slopes, as other ski resorts begin to open, he said.
“There has been high demand for the winter season, especially for the New Year’s Day and semester holiday, from countries such as Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia."
The increase is around 25 percent over last year, he added.
Kars, with its cooler climes, was the first to open. Uludag, in Bursa, one of the country's most popular resorts, is set to open in December. In the 2016-2017 winter, Around 70,000 skiiers visited Uludag - around 5000 of these were foreigners.
Uludag resort has 18 hotels, with 6800 beds between them. These are already booked out for the New Year, forcing guests to head further afield and travle in each day to enjoy the resort's 20 ski runs.
Other ski resorts, including Sarikamis, Erciyes, Palandoken, Ilgaz and Kartepe are also expecting record numbers this winter season, Erdem said. “We need to focus on publicity efforts in order to make our ski resorts well known overseas, just as the Davos, Zermatt and Leysin resorts in Switzerland, and Pamporovo resort in Bulgaria are known,” he added.
As interest in the country's ski fields grows and more and more invest in Turkey's snow potential, it's likely this sector will develop in the coming years, especially to the foreign market.