Pristine beaches, sunny weather, a vibrant nightlife and quiet villas far from the hubbub of urban life draw thousands of holidaymakers to Bodrum every year. This time, they seem inclined to stay amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The mayor of the southwestern resort town is ecstatic over the tourist boom but concerned about how to serve them better. Ahmet Aras says the current budget provided by the government is only good enough for its permanent population of 170,000 and if holidaymakers extend their stay, they need more funds to take care of about 400,000 people in total.
Tourists staying at hotels and other places left after a long holiday but those with summer residences in the town continue to stay. They are either retired or employed in big cities and are now working from home as the trend gains pace in the time of the outbreak.
Bodrum’s population has already been swelling in the past year, leading to an onset of traffic and infrastructure problems, but the pandemic is likely to worsen the situation if the municipality does not come up with a solution.
Aras says they did not suffer from the pandemic like other cities. “We did not have many cases here, and Bodrum remains safe thanks to frequent inspections,” he said. But Aras is more concerned about the rising population in the city, which could “double” in the coming months if the government scraps a full reopening of schools and continues with remote education.
One solution in the mayor’s mind is having holidaymakers move their civil register records to Bodrum. “If you love Bodrum, you should really be a resident of Bodrum,” he said. Thus, permanent population figures for the town can be officially recorded and Bodrum can apply for more funds from the government, which allocates budgets to municipalities based on their population.