Southern Antalya province's resort town of Belek, a popular destination for golfers, is aiming to increase its share of the global golf tourism market to compensate for the loss of Russian tourists.
Russia implemented sanctions on Turkey after its jet was downed for an airspace violation on Nov. 24 near the Turkish-Syrian border. In addition to a ban on some exports, the country has declared a de facto travel ban to Turkey, which attracted some 4.5 million Russian tourists in 2014.
“Russian tourists made up 20-25 percent of the visitors to the Antalya region, and provided almost 50 percent of the income” Fikret Öztürk, the chair of Öztürk Group, which has tourism investments in Belek, told a group of journalists invited to the resort for a golf tournament over the weekend.
“It will not be easy to cover those losses in the short-term, but we will diversify our target markets and especially focus on golf tourists,” he added.
The Belek region is home to 14 of Turkey's 18 golf courses.
Öztürk Group owns the Regnum Carya Hotel, which was the main venue for the G-20 Summit held in Antalya last month, the Carya Golf Club and the National Golf Club. Carya will host the Turkish Airlines Open for three years starting from 2016, while the National is home to the Turkish Ladies Open, the Turkey leg of the Ladies European Tour (LET).
“The G-20 Summit once again put Belek, which was already well-known in golfing circles, on the map,” said Öztürk. “Our target is to make Belek the top golfing destination of the world.”
Öztürk noted that direct flights by Turkish Airlines from European cities are a must to bring in more golf tourists.