Cleopatra Beach in Turkey's southern resort town of Alanya awaits visitors this year after a late start to the tourism season due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The blue-flagged beach, prized for its clear, blue Mediterranean waters and golden sand, is one of the most visited beaches in Antalya province. It welcomed about 3 million tourists last year.
The spot is said to be where Egyptian ruler Cleopatra and Roman general Mark Antony took a dip into the Mediterranean, hence the beach’s modern name.
Its golden sand is unique in that it doesn’t stick to the skin of sunbathers, according to Cleopatra Hoteliers Association President Servet Şakiroğlu.
Şakiroğlu told Anadolu Agency (AA) that the famous beach wraps history, nature, urban life and the sea into one spot.
“Two out of every three people who come to Alanya swim here,” he said, noting that Cleopatra was also chosen as the best beach in Europe by a Dutch magazine.
Cleopatra Beach, which is free and open to the public, also includes a designated area for disabled visitors, Şakiroğlu said.
The beach has been peculiarly empty up to this point due to measures taken to stem the spread of COVID-19, but Şakiroğlu expressed confidence that the beach will regain its former popularity once the pandemic has passed.
“At first, we think that there will mostly be domestic customers. The opening of the European and Russian markets will bring a bit more activity,” he said.
To ensure the safety of vacationers, hygiene measures have been implemented at the beach and are being followed by the region’s hotels as well, Şakiroğlu emphasized.
Alanya Tourism Operators Association (ALTID) President Burhan Sili also assured that the beach is following social distancing, hygiene rules and other preventative measures.
"Our guests will easily swim on the 80-kilometer (50-mile) coastline of Alanya,” he said.
While the pandemic may have delayed the start of the tourism season, plenty of vacationers are still planning visits to Alanya this summer, according to Amanda Özsoy, a worker in the tourism industry.
"Those who have come and spent their holidays in our hotels for years are reaching out to us by phone and email during the pandemic and conveying their wish to come. We want to fill our empty beaches within the framework of the determined rules,” she said.