Cappadocia, one of Turkey's top tourist destinations, welcomed 1.5 million visitors in the first half of 2019, almost 21 percent more compared to the same period last year.
A UNESCO World Heritage site, Capadoccia has become a charming tourism hub thanks to its fairy chimneys, volcanic cones, valleys, underground cities, cave hotels and hot air balloons.
Meanwhile, some 1.5 million tourists visited the museums and archeological sites of the Culture and Tourism Ministry in January-June 2019, which marked a 20.8 percent rise year-on-year, according to official data.
June topped the period with over 428,000 visitors, the Directorate of Culture and Tourism in Nevşehir said. The Göreme Open Air Museum was the top touristic site with almost 649,000 visitors in the same time period.
According to the ministry figures, the touristic sites attracted over 1.2 million visitors in the first half of 2018, which is dubbed "the golden year," due to a high number of visitors.
Mustafa Durmaz, head of the Göreme Tourism Development Cooperative, said that 2018 was the peak of tourism in the region, but this year's figures have beaten all the previous data.
"Cappadocia is a unique natural wonder, and it stands out with activities it offers," he said, adding that people visit the area to ride hot air balloons or just to watch them from below. "We are expecting more visitors until the end of 2019," he said. Mostly people from countries like Russia, China and India prefer to visit Cappadocia.
Tourists coming to Cappadocia, which has been on UNESCO's World Cultural Heritage List since 1985 with its fairy chimneys, natural rock formations, underground settlements, boutique hotels and rock-cut historical monasteries, have the opportunity to watch these eye-catching structures from the sky thanks to hot air balloon tours.
Balloon tours, which made an annual contribution of 33 million euros ($37.1 million) to the economy in 2016, 43 million euros in 2017 and 70 million euros in 2018, yielded approximately 43 million euros in the first six months of this year.