Tourism professionals flocked to areas cleared of terrorism in the southeastern region. Incentive applications were made for nine new hotel investments expected to total TL 500 million (around $131.25 million).While Operation Olive Branch in Syria's northwestern Afrin region is being carried out successfully to maintain border security, tourism investments are increasing in areas cleared of terrorism in the southeastern region. According to the Ministry of Tourism, project incentive certificates were issued to construct nine hotels, including three three-star, five four-star and one one-star hotel, in Diyarbakır, Gaziantep, Hatay, Mardin and Kahramanmaraş, between January and October 2017. The new investments, with construction costs exceeding TL 300 million, are expected to total TL 500 million with the land price.
The new investments will have a capacity of 2,126 beds. In addition, applications were made to the ministry for incentive certificates with the intent of renovation and expansion for 290 beds. Noting that the Afrin operation has not adversely affected demand, tourism professionals said they believe demand will increase even more.
Mete Akcan, head of the southeastern Industrialists' and Businessmen's Association (TÜSAİD), said tourism activity in the region increased greatly compared to the previous year. "The fact that there has been no terrorist activity in the region for one-and-a-half years created an atmosphere of trust," Akcan said, recalling that the hotel occupancy rate, which fell to around 10 percent during trench operations, increased to 65 percent this year.
Pointing out that the season opens in mid-March, Akcan said booking requests are good and the occupancy rate should reach 75-80 percent in the season.
Uğur Kaymak, the chairman of the Turkish Housewares Association (ZÜCDER), said the retail trade volume in the domestic market is approaching $10 billion and that tourism operator expenses, such as restaurants and hotels, constitute 30 percent of the sector.
Kaymak recalled that in 2016, due to terrorist attacks and the Russian crisis, materials such as forks, cups and plates could not be renovated and the industry experienced a loss of $1 billion. Explaining that the recovery in the tourism sector in 2017 was reflected in the houseware sector, Kaymak stressed that thanks to the recovery in tourism, the loss of $1 billion was recovered with an additional gain of $1 billion and that the recovery in tourism contributed $2 billion to the houseware sector.
Investments that need to be completed within three years have also expanded sectors serving tourism. Kaymak noted that new hotel investments made a serious contribution to the housewares sector. "Our sector grew by 10 percent last year. We think we will reach similar figures this year as well. The biggest share in growth will come from the east and the southeast," he continued. "While the sector grew by 10 percent, we expect 30 percent growth in the region. New hotel investments and newly-opened shops will be effective in this regard." Kaymak said some shops went out of business in the region during the trench operations, adding that the shops started to reopen with the atmosphere of trust forming in the past year.