By Burak Akinci
Europeans are bracing for much higher household heating bills for the coming season as their countries continue to bear the brunt of natural gas shortages triggered by the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
Turkish industrial insiders told Xinhua that thousands of hotels along the Mediterranean coast prepared to leave up to 50 percent of their capacities to accommodate what they called "energy tourists" from Europe, including retirees and remote-working professionals.
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"Considering the energy crisis in Europe, people from most of the continent are also expected to be interested in our offer of long winter stays," said Burhan Sili, chair of the Alanya Touristic Hoteliers Association in Türkiye's popular destination the Antalya province.
Erkan Yagci, chair of the Mediterranean Touristic Hoteliers and Investors' Association, said that early reservations show that November will be very busy, and this is particularly the case for European tourists.
Germany, Britain, the Netherlands, Belgium, and the Scandinavian countries will be the major markets on the industry's radar this winter.
"Europeans will have the choice to spend a holiday here in a region with a mild climate rather than staying at home. I think people will definitely consider such a choice," Sili noted.
Another selling point is an upscale experience at a lower cost offered by the devaluing Turkish lira, compared with the vacation expense in European competitors, such as Greece, Sili added.
All-inclusive packages can also insulate European visitors from unexpected costs, said Esra Bilir, a tour operator from the capital city Ankara.
The seasonal trend will contribute to local employment and the national economy which thrives on tourism revenues, Yagci said, adding "Antalya is the most important candidate in meeting the European demand."
Turkey is expecting a record-breaking tourist season despite the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the energy crisis, and an 80-percent hike in the annual inflation rate. It recorded more tourist visits than in 2019, the year before the coronavirus pandemic paralyzed the world.
Yigit Bulut, a senior adviser to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, tweeted earlier this month that 1 million European Union citizens were expected to spend this winter in Türkiye.
He predicted that hotels in Istanbul, Izmir, and Antalya will be full, as the booking has already begun.