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Tourism in Kalkan: The year so far - August 2017 PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Kalkan beach 2017Time to reflect on the tourism season so far.  How is tourism in Kalkan going and what can we expect for the rest of the year?

Apart from our own observations from walking around town we have spoken with a number of business people and those who work in tourism, property owners who rent out villas and apartments, plus a few local bank managers to get their overview. 

This year feels quite different for a number of reasons.  Kalkan started this tourism year against the backdrop of a disappointing 2016 and a very quiet winter.  Back in April/May there was a mixture of apprehension and also a determination to carry on because frankly what else is there to do.

Despite these challenging conditions for tourism we saw businesses pick themselves up, dust themselves down and get ready to provide the warm welcome visitors expect.  And as usual we saw that hope springs eternal with a number of new businesses opening in Kalkan.

Some perspective - the background of 2016
Before we delve into observations and opinions let's look at some hard statistics.  So that you can get some perspective let's remind you of what happened in 2016 at a macro level.  According to the UNWTO in 2016 Turkey dropped from 6th to 10th in the world rankings of tourist arrivals. In terms of tourism receipts in 2016 Turkey went from 12th to 17th in the world rankings.  This gives you some idea of the dreadful background against which we can compare and contrast what is happening so far in 2017.

Statistics - foreigner arrivals
The Turkish Ministry of Culture & Tourism figures are available up to June 2017.  If we compare the first six months of the year for the last four years, for all of Turkey we see this picture.

 Year to June (6 months)
       All foreign visitors       
 2014 15.2 million
 2015 14.9 million
 2016 10.7 million
 2017 12.2 million

The signs of recovery are there but numbers are still behind 2014 and 2015 levels.  In other words it is a partial, and we would suggest a fragile recovery that requires ongoing attention from those involved in the tourism industry. 

Further analysis of the figures shows some interesting changes for a number of nationalities.  Russians are back in numbers - by a staggering 820% if you please - boosting the Antalya tourism economy in particular.  Significantly more travellers are coming from Georgia and Iran as Turkey looks to attract nationals from other countries to bolster the tourism numbers.

By contrast Europeans are shrinking away.  See the table below.  German citizens in particular are less likely to go to their local flughafen and fly over to Turkey, and the prospect of them making that journey any time soon seems unlikely given the tensions that clearly exist between the Turkish and German governments.

 Year to June (6 months)
 Europe OECD visitors only 
 20146.2 million
 20156.2 million
 20164.2 million
 20173.5 million

Within the overall Europe OECD figures above the statistics for Britain are far from impressive - down 27% in H1 2016 and down a further 12% in H1 2017.  The table below shows that British visitors are still not arriving in anything like the numbers of just a few years ago.  This trend would appear to reflect the situation in Kalkan, which as most KTLN readers know is heavily dependent upon British visitors for its tourism economy.

 Year to June (6 months)
       British visitors only      
 2014 961,130(+5%)
 2015 950,313(-1%)
 2016 693,081(-27%)
 2017 607,272(-12%)

Turkish International Airports - foreigner arrivals
Here are some more statistics to overlay on the ones above.  They show you figures for the first seven months of the year (to the end of July).
Dalaman Airport

The first table shows the overall number of passengers from abroad arriving at all Turkish international airports.  Foreign arrivals are up, but not at levels seen a few years ago.  See table below.

 Year to July (7 months)     All airports foreign arrivals    
 201444 million
 201546 million
 201639.3 million
 2017 44.2 million

Of more interest to us is what is happening at our nearest airport, Dalaman.  These numbers are shown in the table below.

 Year to July (7 months)  Dalaman airport foreign arrivals
20141,674, 851 


Whilst the upswing of 28% is very welcome news the numbers are still well below 2014 and 2015 levels.  A greater proportion of these international passengers are now coming from eastern European and Balkan countries, reflecting the European downturn illustrated in the official tourism statistics above.  

The statistics below for Antalya airport reflect the fact that the Russians have returned.  Those heading to Antalya and nearby resorts such as Belek and Kemer tend to go for the all inclusive packages available there.  There is still some catching up to do though.

 Year to July (7 months)  Antalya airport foreign arrivals  Difference



The local picture in Kalkan
These Ministry of Tourism and airport figures are all well and good but what does it all mean for Kalkan we hear you ask.

Kalkan beach 2017

The tourism season in Kalkan got off to a disappointingly slow start this year.  This came as no surprise to many of us given the disappointing season in 2016, (estimated locally to have been between 40% and 60% down on 2015).  Things have certainly picked up now though, but then again if it's not busy in July and August it would be a total disaster. 

But the 2017 toursim season is not a disaster.  It seems to be similar to or a little better than 2016, however it's nowhere near as good as a few years ago when businesses were breezing along, riding on the crest of a wave.  When we spoke to local business people recently and asked how business was now compared to last year we got a range of responses; typically ranging from 15% down to 15% higher.  Bank managers generally concurred with these assessments but of course there will always be exceptions.

To be clear, some businesses are doing well, especially some of the long established ones with their armies of loyal followers, and new businesses are still popping up, ever hopeful.  But business is not spread uniformly across Kalkan and some businesses are struggling.  Banks are extending credit to support those businesses where cashflow is not there, but as with every year some may not survive to trade another season.

A greater mix of tourists
For many years now British tourists have made up the vast majority of visitors to Kalkan.  In some respects Kalkan has had pretty much all of its eggs in one basket but following last year's disappointing season it is evident that some holiday companies have turned their attention to other markets - quite sensibly you might say.

The number of non-UK visitors is up significantly, and in particular we have noted significantly more Turkish people on holiday in Kalkan.  A great many of them are staying in recently built accommodation in nearby mountain villages such as Üzümlü and Islamlar.  This appears to be a rapidly growing market where customers like the seclusion, privacy and cooler temperatures.

But they do still come down to town in their cars, and one of the side effects of having so many domestic tourists is that parking has become even more problematic.  We have also noticed a number of cars with foreign number plates in town from places such as Germany, France, Netherlands, Switzerland, Romania and the occasional GB plate.

Different spending patterns
This increase in non-UK visitors has partially offset the decline in UK visitors, and this has to be seen as a welcome development, however a number of locals have described how spending patterns are not the same.  Anecdotally it is claimed that many Turkish visitors are choosing to buy food in supermarkets such as Bim and A101 so they can return to their base and eat at home, rather than pushing the boat out in restaurants. 

So despite the appearance right now of Kalkan being very busy in the evenings, it is the supermarkets, greengrocers and butchers who are doing the best business whilst some restaurants are continuing to operate well below capacity with visitors strolling past their doors simply enjoying a promenade through the streets of the old town, armed with nothing more than an ice-cream.  Ice-cream vendors are probably doing quite well. 

Outside the Moonlight barA greater spread of restaurants
It is also worth pointing out that over the years businesses in Kalkan have spread out to what were once considered outlying areas.  Whilst the main focus undoubtedly remains in the old town there are now so many places to eat outside the centre - especially along Kalamar Road, up Şehitler Caddesi heading towards and beyond the banks, and not forgetting the trout farms of Islamlar.

And in the old town itself the pattern of footfall has changed over the last few years.  The main pedestrian thoroughfare into town is still along Mustafa Kocakaya Caddesi - from the taxi rank roundabout and past the post office. See image left.

From Moonlight bar the route of choice used to be straight on, down Hasan Altan Caddesi past the jewellers towards and beyond Merkez Cafe, with smaller numbers splitting off in two directions - some turning slight left past Teras restaurant (formerly Sofra) and others turning right down the hill towards the Mosque.  It would be fair to say that the slight left turn along Süleyman Yılmaz Caddesi has become much more popular, with this street experiencing nothing short of a renaissance.

From our observations we would say that footfall is different down at the harbour too.  The harbour area where the fire damaged units were rebuilt has had to work exceptionally hard to bring back trade.  It's been encouraging to see something of a recovery down there but business does not seem to us to be back to pre-fire levels at that end of the harbour.

What are the factors at play?
There is no simple answer.  It's a combination of factors and a matter of opinion as to what kind of weighting you attach to each one.

Adverse factors include: the fear of terrorism; political tensions - especially post-coup and conflict in the wider region.  These are all genuine concerns but the way in which these things have been reported in some parts of the UK press has sometimes been exaggerated.  The reality here in Kalkan is that none of these factors affect our day to day life and anyone who has been to Kalkan this year will tell you as much.  Perception and reality are not the same.  Unfortunately these perceptions are keeping some British (and other European) people away.

[For information, Istanbul is over 800 km from Kalkan and the Syrian border is over 1,000 km away.  Comparable distances are Newquay to Glasgow and Brighton to Inverness respectively].

Some of the other negative factors are things like the introduction of stricter regulations on renting which temporarily spooked the rentals market but has now settled down; the cost and availability of flights (even though some people seem able to grab the occasional bargain), and as trivial as it may sound, the ban on carrying certain electronic devices on board aircraft (currently being lifted). 

Great food in KalkanThe reality - the good news
On the positive side there are still many factors that attract people to Kalkan.  For those who have weighed up all the relevant factors and decided to come to Kalkan it's been as good as ever.  The reality is that despite any concerns locals may have about their own businesses you will still find those familiar Kalkan faces smiling at you as you walk into town. 

The reality is that we have had countless sun filled days, blue skies, sparkling seas and mouth watering meals, plus the occasional ice cold beverage.  Some of us have continued to venture into the amazing hinterland to enjoy the mountains, gorges, rivers, bays and beaches: places such as Patara, Saklıkent, Kekova, the Lycian Way, Xanthos and Islamlar.  It's all out there, still as wonderful as ever.

Here in our part of the Turquoise Coast, the reality is that we have had no terrorist attacks, no political problems, no migrant crisis and when it comes to value for money if you look at exchange rate trends over recent months, the Turkish lira offers better value than the Euro. 

If people can just see beyond the news headlines and focus on the real Kalkan they will realise that it remains as attractive as ever. 

Jet2.comThe rest of this season and into 2018
How is the rest of the season looking?  And what about next year?

Optimism continues.  The Turkish government has just announced that the upcoming public holiday period, starting on 26th August is being extended to ten days.  Given the growth in domestic tourism in Kalkan this year that should be good news for Kalkan and Kaş.  There is plenty of choice for accommodation and spare capacity so look out for bargains before the end of the season.

Looking further ahead Thomas Cook has committed to providing some out of season flights to Dalaman, which is an improvement on last year when we had none. We expect there to be a good choice of restaurants open this winter with some already announcing their intentions to remain open. 

It may be a bit more of a challenge to get here out of the main tourist season but Kalkan still has so much to offer.  Locals will tell you it's the best time of year - it's less crowded and the daytime temperatures are very reasonable.  The mountain walking is particularly good.

Both TUI and Thomas Cook have announced that bookings for Turkey are really picking up now, which is excellent news.  Jet2.com are boosting the number of flights and seats to Dalaman next year.  So the momentum seems to be going the right way.  Let's hope it continues.

Good luck to all Kalkan businesses, and happy holidays to all visitors.


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Last Updated on Thursday, 17 August 2017