- Özgür Töre
The popular Turkish resort of Bodrum, located on the Aegean coast of Mugla province, hopes to attract 1.5 million foreign tourists in 2022, exceeding pre-pandemic figures.
"In 2019, the city hosted 1.3 million foreigners, while only 530,000 came in 2020 in the midst of the global coronavirus outbreak," said Ahmet Aras, mayor of Bodrum.
Noting the pandemic-induced losses in tourism over the past two years, he said Bodrum's population had almost tripled during this time, with summer cottagers spending the entire year there.
Bodrum, like the rest of the world, suffered from a severe loss of foreign tourists, Aras said, adding that life had started to return to normal in many places as restrictions continue to be lifted.
He said that all tourism destinations have started recovering and that Bodrum made a good start to 2022.
Cruise ships that have been absent from the town for two years, will reach 150 in 2022, he said, noting that these ships are expected to bring 206,000 foreign tourists to Bodrum.
Ferry services from the Greek islands have started and direct flights are in increasing demand, he said.
"In other words, the number of tourists coming by sea and air will exceed that of 2019. We're going to host more than 1.5 million foreign tourists this year."
While many tourism hotspots are working to reach their 2019 figures in 2023, Bodrum will exceed these figures this year, he underlined, becoming the leading tourist destination in the Mediterranean.
Half of the foreign tourists that the town received last year were from Russia and Ukraine, he said, though their numbers may drop this year due to the war.
"However, we see a remarkable increase in interest when we look at other countries and markets, especially from the UK, Germany, Israel, the Netherlands, Poland, and the Gulf countries," he added.
Aras emphasized that Bodrum's airport gets direct flights from 86 points across 35 countries, with 49 different airlines bringing in passengers.
By the end of this summer, new direct flights from Albania, Kuwait, Qatar, Dubai, and Russia will start, he noted.
To diversify the town's tourism sector, work continues in different fields, including natural, gastronomy, winter, and sports tourism, added the mayor.