Numerous Iranian tourists have flocked to eastern Turkey's Van to join the fifth Van Shopping Fest, which started on Friday and coincides with the 13-day Nevruz holiday. Located near the Iranian border, Van is a tourist attraction for its natural wonders and historic monuments. Over the years, it has become a top destination for Iranian tourists, especially during the Iranian national holidays.
Many Iranian tourists every year come to Turkish cities to spend their 13-day Nevruz holiday, the Persian New Year and celebrate the coming of spring on March 21. The Van Shopping Fest takes place between March 15 and March 29, coinciding with Iran's 13-day-long Nevruz holidays. The 15-day shopping fest is a good opportunity for Iranian shoppers and the city's hotels have high occupancy rates.
As part of the festival's opening ceremony, many officials, representatives of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and a large number of citizens marched to the festival area on Cumhuriyet Street. People wearing Van cat and Van Lake monster costumes during the march spiced up the opening event along with performances by folk dancers, basketball players, skaters, bikers and stage performers. Rare Van cats are the proverbial apples of Turkey's eyes. Known for their friendly demeanor, silky fur, lion-like walk, fluffy tails, mismatched-colored eyes and a fondness for water, Van cats are one of the rare animal species that have not been hybridized.
Governor and Deputy Mayor Mehmet Emin Bilmez and his entourage visited booths to get information about ongoing projects, watched the violin performance in the festival area and talked to other participants. Bilmez told Anadolu Agency (AA) that Iranian tourists once again showed great interest in the festival, pointing to a large number of tourists despite the fees applied at the customs gate. "There is great mobility and excitement in our city. Every year we expand and grow," he said. "Tourists will enjoy the festival, and our shopkeepers will be pleased. We need to improve this. The people of Van cherish their peace, tranquility and order."
Culture and Tourism Provincial Director Muzaffer Aktuğ, on the other hand, said during the 15-day festival, tourists will be able to do discount shopping, underlining that events contribute greatly to the city's promotion.
"This city should be brought to the agenda with beauties, fairs and festivals. This is about ensuring the city's mobility, which also helps people visiting the city to see our values. Thus, the event contributes greatly to the city's tourism and trade," he said. "Tradesmen are quite pleased. The previous years went very well. Occupancy rate in hotels reached 80 percent. Starting from the 21st this month, all our hotels will operate at full capacity. I wish this density could be maintained for a long time."