Winter Tourism Potential and Turkey

Turkey has increased its winter potential with qualifed skiing and thermal tourism facilities in recent years

Turkey does not only own historical and cultural riches but is also a remarkable tourist destination with its four seasons of climate and geography showing different characteristics. Our country stands out in the eld with its mountains suitable for high altitude skiing, snow quality and new ski facilities. Our ski centers in Bursa-Uludağ, Bolu-Kartalkaya, Erzurum-Palandöken, Kocaeli-Kartepe, Kayseri-Erciyes, Kars-Sarıkamış, Isparta-Davraz and Sivas-Yıldız Mountain welcome many guests during the winter, both domestic and foreign.


Even though our ski centers predominantly respond to demands from the domestic market, they have also become internationally recognized because of promotional and marketing activities carried out in recent years. During the season from December to March, Turkey is a popular destination for foreign tourists especially from Russia, Ukraine, Poland and Middle Eastern countries.

Uludağ, which is the most visited ski center by domestic and foreign tourist, stands out to its proximity to big cities, a bed capacity of over 4 thousand 500 and as Turkey’s biggest winter and nature sports center. The Erciyes Ski Center, which has been improved with serious infrastructure investments in the recent years, has 34 slopes with a length of 102 kilometers, 18 cable cars and has become very popular as charter destination in especially Russia, Ukraine and Poland. The Erciyes Ski Center has a bed capacity of 1500 and the city center approximately 5 thousand.


Palandöken, one of the important and rooted ski centers in our country, offers suitable slopes for Alpine skiing and snowboarding in its three centers but also the possibility to do different activities such as paragliding, mountaineering, snowtubing and paintball. Palandöken has hosted the 25th World University Winter Games in 2011 and owns seven easy, eight medium-professional (difficult) and four natural tracks. The interest for this destination, with a bed capacity of 2 thousand 466, increases yearly.

The Davraz Center in Isparta with three chair lifts, one ski lift and two baby lifts, welcomes its guests with four hotels, of which one has 4 stars, and 443 rooms. The Sarıkamış Ski Center, which stands out with its snow quality, holds the title of being one of the five priority 1st grade centers in Turkey. This ski center with three slopes consisting of three stages and a total length of 22 thousand 400 meters, serves with 22 hotels and a bed capacity of 1513.

The Kartepe Ski Center in Kocaeli contributes to winter tourism with four mechanical ski resorts, a slope area of 42 kilometers and 14 slopes. In the Bolu Kartalkaya Ski Center, however we have five resorts and a bed capacity of approximately 600 serving during the winter season from December to April. Twentyve slopes with different training and difficulty levels, as part of the eighteen mechanical resorts, serve within the scope of the Kartalkaya hotels.


Another eld creating serious potential for winter tourism is thermal tourism. With our nearly 1500 natural thermal water resources with temperatures varying from 20oC to 110oC, we have reached first place in Europe and 7th worldwide. The number of foreign visitors bene ting from thermal facilities and thermal springs in our country exceeded 600 thousand in 2018. The number of beds in the thermal and spa facilities operated in Turkey business or with municipal certi cate is 46 thousands. When we add investment certified facilities, this number rises to more than 60 thousand. It is possible to encounter hot springs and thermals in almost every region in Turkey. However, especially Bursa, Yalova, Denizli and Afyonkarahisar are the focus point of foreign tourists.


Another area that attracts more tourists in the winter period is advanced age tourism, also known as 3rd age tourism. In the year 2050 it is expected that the number of people over 65 years will exceed 2 billion 80 million. At this point, 3rd age tourism finds its place among the prominent tourism types. The United Nations World Tourism Organization points out that the potential in this area will increase significantly in the coming years, especially with the increase in the elderly population in high-income countries. Turkey is, with its qualitative facilities, a very attractive country for 3rd age tourism. Especially, Antalya offers incredible opportunities thanks to its mild climate and nature. Attracting 3rd age tourists to our country is important in terms of revitalizing the inactive facilities during the winter period and spreading the tourism to 12 months. As TÜRSAB (Association of Turkish Travel Agencies), we continue our infrastructure works aiming to increase the income we obtain from advanced age, thermal and medical tourism, which are part of health tourism. Our goal is to attract health tourists from all over the world, especially Europe, the Middle East and Gulf countries.


When sports tourism is evaluated as coastal regions, there is a rising value in terms of winter tourism. Sports tourism in Turkey, with a volume of $1 billion, is dominated by golf, closely followed by football. While tourists coming for sports purposes spend an average of 2 thousand dollars per person, they stay for 10-14 days and their camp sizes vary from 10-50 persons. Antalya alone has the potential to host 5 thousand camps, training and special events in terms of football tourism.

Tourism diversity needs to be increased in order to become a sector operating throughout 12 months a year. Within the scope of winter tourism, we own very important sector values such as skiing, thermal, sports and 3rd age and have the infrastructure to serve these areas.

President of the TÜRSAB, Board Member of the DEİK Firuz Bağlıkaya

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