İZMİR - One of the biggest open-air museums in the world, the ancient city of Ephesus may break its visitor record this year, according to Selçuk’s local administrator, who thinks that there are some signs promising that kind of success. The target is to better last year’s 2 million tourists
Some 1.6 million foreign and domestic tourists visited Ephesus three years ago and that total grew to 2 million tourists last year, Aziz İnci told the Anatolia news agency.
İnci said this year they were expecting to break their own record. "The ancient city of Ephesus, one of the biggest open air museums in the world, is the third most visited spot in Turkey after the Hagia Sophia and Topkapı Palace. Ephesus is one of Anatolia’s oldest archaeological sites and the majority of it is still underground. Despite that, tourist numbers increase each year," he said.
İnci said he based the expected 10 percent increase in visitors on numbers retrieved from travel agencies, hotels and cruise tourism firms. "We expect over 700 cruise ships to Kuşadası. Visitors who come to Kuşadası mostly visit Ephesus and the House of Virgin Mary directly after arriving. The Church of Saint Jean, İsa Bey Mosque and Şirince Village are also popular tourist spots in Seçuk, he said.
İnci said there were two main reasons why they were expecting more tourists despite the global economic crisis. "First, the promotion and organization done by TÜRSAB (The Association of Turkish Travel Agencies) and the tourism facilities built with the coordination of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. The second reason is the appreciation of the U.S. dollar and euro against the (Turkish) lira. Turkey is a cheap and charming country for tourists in terms of the exchange rate of the U.S. dollar and euro."
Local administrator İnci also said all the necessary preparations needed to ensure the safety of guests and quality of services were evaluated and taken prior to the tourism season. "There are evaluations done before the season with the sector representatives and the administrators. Security measures are not enough by themselves. Any type of negative influence to disturb the tourists should be eliminated," he said, adding that the most important precaution was personnel training. "The quality standards must be heightened and maintained. Everybody is responsible in that sense, from the shoe shiner in the street to the museum director."
İnci suggested that Selçuk’s 7,000-bed capacity should be increased, indicating that tourism investors should be encouraged by the Pamucak area and the tourism master plan that is in the works. "There is work to be done, which was determined by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. We are not at the point we desire to be in terms of accommodation capacity. Our tourism is Kuşadası based." İnci added that there was not much structuring at the shores of Selçuk and it should be kept that way. "We should not be doing works that will cause the district to lose its qualities. We should be careful." İnci said the only structuring that can be built is at the areas determined by the ministry; big tourism facilities like golf courses.