Bursa, Oct 22 () - The northwestern province of Bursa is playing host to the European Historic Thermal Towns Association (EHTTA) summit as the first and sole association member from Turkey. Representatives and tourism players from 36 cities in 13 countries traveled to Bursa for the three-day summit, which began on Oct. 19.
Bursa, which is a leading thermal tourism destination in Turkey, is also part of Europe’s Historic Thermal Towns Destinations.
The city plans to increase the number of thermal spring-seeking tourists through a number of campaigns and new hotel investments, Bursa Governor Münir Karaloğlu told Hürriyet Daily News, adding that Turkish soap operas have also played a great role in the rising popularity of the city both in Turkey and abroad.
“It is an honor for us to be the first and sole EHTTA member from Turkey in a bid to preserve our city’s thermal heritage and to develop sustainable tourism models. Bursa wants to be a role model in thermal tourism as we have become an EHTTA member by meeting hundreds of standards and fulfilling several procedures. Being also a board member of the association and a decision maker, we are here to transfer our knowhow in thermal tourism to other thermal tourism centers of great historic value in Turkey,” he said.
A number of historic Turkish baths and thermal springs have recently been restored, according to Bursa officials.
Turkish Health Minister Mehmet Müezzinoğlu noted Bursa was announced as a thermal health base in line with a cabinet decision during his closing speech at the summit, according to a follow-up press release.
He also said the ministry was ready to support all businesspeople who plan to invest in the sector.
Karaloğlu said the bed capacity of Bursa’s modern thermal facilities was around 7,000 and around 1,535 of these facilities have tourism accreditation.
“This capacity is unfortunately not enough for us to meet the rising demand in our city,” he said.
According to data from the Bursa Tourism Agency, a total of 761,388 tourists visited Bursa in 2014, one-third of who were foreigners.
“Bursa lures tourists from many countries, such as Germany, Russia, Britain and France. We have also seen a dramatic rise in the number of tourists from Middle Eastern and Gulf countries, mainly thanks to Turkish soap operas, which are very popular in these countries. Even after an episode of the ‘Magnificent Century,’ which was shot in Bursa, we saw a sharp rise in the number of tourists flocking to our city. Besides, Bursa is where the Ottoman Empire was born, thus including many historical buildings” he said.