Elif Demirci - Izmir, Aug 13 () - One of the largest Greek tourism companies, Mouzenidis Group, has offered travel agencies in the Aegean province of İzmir to organize marriage tours to the Atatürk House in Thessaloniki in a bid to boost tourism in the cash-strapped country. Turkish agencies have found the idea appealing and asked their counterparts to develop tour packages.
The financial crisis in Greece has pushed businesspeople to develop new initiatives to boost economic activities. In this vein, Mouzenidis Group, which owns 20 companies, made this new offer to Turkish tour agencies.
The group’s head, Dimitrios Gkazias, offered the development of marriage tours by Turkey’s travel agencies at the Atatürk House in Greece in his meeting with the head of the İzmir Regional Execution Board of Turkey’s Travel Agencies Association (TÜRSAB), Rıza Gençay.
Gkazias said there were dozens of Turks who have gotten married on Greek islands such as Rhodes and Santorini, adding they should do this at the Atatürk House in Thessaloniki.
“We have found the offer very appealing. The marriage festivities may be held within the house or in the garden. This move will surge tourism activities from Turkey to Greece… We have asked our Greek counterparts to develop tour packages which are attractive both on quality and price,” Gencay said.
Atatürk’s house in Thessaloniki, where he was born in 1881 and lived until his father passed away in 1888, was reopened on Oct. 29, 2014, Turkey’s national Republic Day, after being decorated with about 50 of his personal belongings.
As part of the Treaty of Lausanne, the Greek government took over ownership of the house, but the Thessaloniki Municipality subsequently presented it as a gift to Turkey in 1937. Atatürk then ordered the adjacent lands to be bought and for Turkish Consulate buildings to be built on the land.
Today, the museum is one of Thessaloniki’s key tourist attractions and is rising in popularity. While 20,000 tourists visited in 2011, this figure increased to more than 100,000 in the last couple of years.