Ferah Işık - Ramazan Çetin / Denizli, July 8 () - Some 700,000 tourists visited Pamukkale, a “white haven” in the western province of Denizli, in the first six months of the year, a decrease of around 1 percent from the same period of the previous year, according to officials. The actual decrease may, however, be higher, according to private sector representatives.
Denizli Culture and Tourism Directorate Mehmet Korkmaz said there was a slight decrease in the number of tourists visiting Pamukkale, which offers unique beauty with its white travertine pools created by carbonate minerals left from flowing water, but the hotels are expected to be full in the upcoming Eid Ramadan.
Pamukkale Tourism Association head Ali Aktürk, however, said there was a dramatic drop in the number of foreign tourists visiting the touristic spot, which has been on UNESCO’s world heritage sites that need to be preserved since 1988.
Korkmaz said the occupancy rate of the hotels is around 60 percent right now.
“We expect the figure will increase to 90-100 percent after the holy month of Ramadan” he added.
Aktürk, however, said the occupancy rate in some hotels has decreased to 18 percent now.
“The sector welcomed a cold year, although the figures have become better as of July. Hundreds of people who work at the historical site use entrance cards to enter the site and they are counted as if they were tourists visiting the site. I run a restaurant here, and there is around a 35 percent decrease in the number of tourists this year from the previous year” he said.
The province of Denizli is home to 19 ancient cities. Denizli’s ancient Pamukkale-Hierapolis site was the most visited place in Turkey in 2014, followed by the ancient city of Ephesus and the Göreme Open Air Museum, according to official figures.