Turkey’s travertine paradise Pamukkale has left behind its most quiet season of the last 21 years as the coronavirus pandemic disrupted travel, hindering arrivals to the historic site in southwestern Turkey.
The number of visitors to Pamukkale in 2020 plunged to around 625,120, according to data compiled by Anadolu Agency (AA). The drop followed its busiest year on record in 2019, as the site welcomed 2.58 million local and foreign tourists.
Sector representatives are hopeful vaccination developments will enable the region to regain its pre-pandemic vitality.
Located in the central Aegean province of Denizli, Pamukkale is famed globally for its unique travertine terraces and mineral-rich thermal waters, as well as its ruins, that offer tourists the chance to have a glimpse of the traces of a civilization that dates back around 2,000 years.
A UNESCO World Heritage site, it also hosts a number of items of significant historical and cultural value, including the Cleopatra Pool, an ancient theater, the Gate of Hell and the tomb of the apostle St. Philip, among others.
Pamukkale started last year with its best January ever, welcoming 76,541 visitors, a number that has fallen to just 12,565 in the first month of this year.
Denizli Tourist Hoteliers and Operators Association (DENTUROD) Chairperson Gazi Murat Şen stressed the significant impact the outbreak has had on the region.
Yet, Şen hopes mobility will increase as the weather gets warmer.
“If it was not for the virus last year, our number of tourists would have increased to over 3 million,” he told AA.
“We hope that in 2021, with the vaccine, we will be able to achieve much better numbers in tourism. Our goal is to reach 2019’s figures. Hopefully, after defeating the epidemic, we aim to welcome 3 million domestic and foreign visitors to Pamukkale,” Şen noted.
“We hope that those who come to see this unique beauty will again prompt a flood of people to the travertine.”