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Turkish town gives a warm welcome to Chinese guests

China Daily | Updated: 2023-01-16 09:23

One of the Lycian rock tombs, which date back to the 4th century BC, overlooks the town of Fethiye in Turkiye. The tombs are the symbol of the town. RON WATTS/GETTY IMAGES

ISTANBUL — A resort town along the western Mediterranean coast of Turkiye is all geared up for the return of Chinese tourists as China eased its travel restrictions on Jan 8.

"That's excellent news, and we are thrilled," says Celal Yildiz, owner of a travel agency in Fethiye, a district of the Mugla province famed for its valleys, beaches and extreme sports.

The region became a top-rated and eye-catching destination for Chinese travelers after a number of Chinese influencers visited Fethiye in 2015 and shared their paragliding experiences with the Chinese audience.

Touted as one of the best spots for paragliding, the 2,000-meter-high Babadag mountain stands perpendicular to the sea and provides perfect weather conditions to fly all year round. Adventurers can take off from the mountain and glide to the sandy beach of Fethiye's small town of Oludeniz.

Lots of Chinese people, especially younger travelers, came here to experience the sport over the breathtaking view of the Oludeniz lagoon.

"I have friends from China, and we always chat on WeChat," says Yildiz, emphasizing the good friendships he and Chinese visitors have established.

"If everything stays on track, we will have a big increase (in the number of Chinese guests visiting Fethiye in 2023)."

Ozgen Uysal, head of the Western Mediterranean Regional Representatives Board at the Turkish Travel Agencies Association, says that, before the pandemic started, in 2019, the paragliding companies in Fethiye carried out approximately 166,000 flights, among which, 40 percent were undertaken by Chinese guests.

"That is a very high figure for us," Uysal says.

Recently, the area has started to receive an increasing number of Chinese travelers. Among the approximate 100 flights per day, 15-20 of them were carrying Chinese guests, according to Uysal, who is optimistic for this year.

Mustafa Argin, the owner of three boutique hotels in Fethiye, says that the entire region, incredibly keen to welcome Chinese tourists, is eagerly preparing for their arrival.

"We are very familiar with the preferences of our Chinese guests," Argin says, explaining that they serve breakfasts with food items suitable for Chinese tastes and about 70 percent of his staff have an intermediate understanding of the Chinese language.

"Fethiye loves China, while the Chinese also love Fethiye, and the region is harmonious with them," Argin says.




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