The coronavirus pandemic has not prevented Bulgarian tourists from arriving and visiting the city of Edirne in northwestern Turkey, which has been a favorite hot spot for visitors from across its neighboring borders.
Bulgarians head over the border daily to meet many of their needs and benefit from Turkey’s competitive prices and high-quality goods.
The trend has particularly accelerated as of September when Bulgaria lifted a quarantine for citizens arriving from Turkey.
“Business is going well, thank God,” said Salih Mızrak, citing the arrivals from the neighboring country
The tradesman at the weekly Ulus Bazaar, a covered marketplace offering a wide range of goods, including textiles and kitchen products, Mızrak told Demirören News Agency (DHA) that Bulgarian customers have livened up the city, particularly over the last month.
Busy crowds in Edirne marketplaces are particularly spotted on Fridays and weekends when Bulgarian tourists typically arrive.
One of the major reasons behind this wave of visitors is the volatility in exchange rates that led to the Turkish lira’s sharp decline, making Turkish products much more affordable for tourists.
Visitors from Bulgaria are said to be buying as many products as they can carry while continuing their shopping, despite the growing increase in coronavirus cases in both countries.
“The shopkeepers are happy and they (tourists) shop in our market with peace of mind. They come because they find everything cheap, from A to Z, in our market,” Mızrak said.
Gülşen Dönmez, who lives in Bulgaria’s predominantly Turkish province of Kardzhali (Kırcaali), says competitive prices are particularly what make them come to the city every week.
“I came from Bulgaria to shop because the prices are very affordable. We can get what we want,” Dönmez noted.
She also cited the good quality of the products.
“There is a difference in quality between what we buy here and what we buy in Bulgaria, and there is a lot of interest in the customer here, they behave very well,” she said.
Dönmez says she spends as much as TL 2,000 ($235) each time she comes. “Clothes, kitchen supplies, we get everything from here. In Bulgaria, they are certainly not interested in the customer.”
Another customer from Kırcaali, Yıldız Ayaz, said she spends up to TL 3,000 during each of her shopping trips.
“The products here are both very good and the price is cheap. There is a lot of difference between Bulgaria and here,” Ayaz noted. “Every time we come, TL 3,000 goes. We come every week. In addition, the attitude of the local tradesmen makes us very happy.”
Hygiene measures as a precaution against the coronavirus in the market are being implemented at the highest level, said Bülent Reisoğlu, president of the Ulus Pazar Tradesmen Cooperative.
“There are crowds in markets due to the high demand of Bulgarian citizens. Edirne’s trade has therefore mobilized. In addition, due to the coronavirus outbreak, intense measures are being taken by the governorship of Edirne, the mayor’s office and the Provincial Health Directorate to keep the crowds safe,” Reisoğlu noted.
The cooperative makes regular announcements in Bulgarian to remind people to follow measures established as protection against the coronavirus. “We take all our precautions at the highest level. We are creating a healthy environment. We say measures and health first and then shopping.”
Bahri Dinar, the president of the Association for Promoting Edirne and the Quality Protection of Fried Liver, said that Bulgarian and local tourists who come extensively during the pandemic are observing the rules and are wearing masks, maintaining social distance and hygiene, adding that they are also taking all necessary precautions.
“Bulgarian tourists have earlier already been flocking to Edirne. This was somewhat interrupted after the coronavirus pandemic entered our lives. After Sept. 1, the doors were reopened, and we can say that our Bulgarian guests are returning,” Dinar said.
Authorities in the city have been carrying out strict inspections and enforcement, he said.
“People in the marketplaces are used to it. They are always wearing masks. And those arriving in our stores are constantly disinfecting their hands. Both sides follow the rules. And as long as we follow the rules, everything is fine,” Dinar concluded.
According to the Edirne Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the city welcomed around 2.74 million Greek and Bulgarian tourists in 2019 alone. Bulgarians and Greeks, who are also frequent visitors in the city, are said to have spent more than 270 million euros ($320 million) in 2019 during their shopping trips.
According to data compiled from the Kapıkule, Ipsala, Hamzabeyli and Pazarkule border gates, some 2.17 million Bulgarian and 570,382 Greek tourists arrived in the city in 2019.
Greek and Bulgarian tourists typically arrive a day ahead of their shopping trip, entering from the Pazarkule or Kapıkule border gates and usually spend the night in a hotel. They come to Edirne individually or on a package tour.
Please click to read our informative text prepared pursuant to the Law on the Protection of Personal Data No. 6698 and to get information about the cookies used on our website in accordance with the relevant legislation.
6698 sayılı Kişisel Verilerin Korunması Kanunu uyarınca hazırlanmış aydınlatma metnimizi okumak ve sitemizde ilgili mevzuata uygun olarak kullanılan çerezlerle ilgili bilgi almak için lütfen tıklayınız.