For a town that thrives on tourism revenues, the arrival of tourists is an everyday occurrence in the Mediterranean town of Alanya, Turkey. Yet, locals made an unusual exception for Russian tourists on Friday by deploying two fire trucks to spray water over the plane as a uniquely showy welcome.
Paired with gifts of flowers and strawberries, the watery salute to the 188 tourists was actually a celebration of the first direct flight from Moscow to Alanya's Gazipaşa airport. The town's mayor, Adem Murat Yücel, district governors and other officials attended a welcoming ceremony for the lucky tourists, who obviously enjoyed the ceremony. As the travelers moved to the passport checkpoint, another surprise was waiting for them when they were showered with gifts and pieces of cake by locals.
"It is the first time we have had a direct flight from Russia. This was something we have sought to accomplish for years. It is a good opportunity to boost our relations with Russia, and it will definitely help local tourism," Yücel said.
Though the flights are not daily and will be limited, the morale of the local tourism industry has been boosted after suffering losses over the past two years due to a string of terror attacks in Turkey and the strained relations between Turkey and Russia. Alanya is a district of Antalya wildly popular among Russian tourists. Burhan Sili, head of the local tourism businesses association, said the first flight by Pobeda, a low-cost Russian airline, will be followed by flights by Corel, Anex and Pegas.