By Hassan Isilow
PRETORIA (AA) - The Turkish Embassy in Pretoria held a workshop Wednesday to educate tour operators and hotel representatives about some of the tourist attractions South Africans can expect to experience when they visit Turkey.
Ambassador Elif Comoglu Ulgen said her country has a lot of attractions to offer tourists including historical, cultural, leisure, gastronomy and religious sites.
Ulgen invited Marion Smith, an Independent South African travel influencer and guest of the embassy who has visited Turkey at least 25 times in the last five years, to narrate her experience to the audience.
“The country has good landscape, nice food, friendly people and it's safe,’’ Smith said.
She also said Turkey is a culturally rich and beautiful country perfect for those visiting for business or holiday.
Smith told the audience various tourist attractions Turkey has including a world class skiing site, religious attractions and the famous shopping venues at the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul.
''Turkey has world class ski slopes of Mount Ericiyes during winter season, the Cappadocia hot air balloons all year round, the shopping bazaar in Istanbul and many historical sites,'' she told Anadolu Agency after the presentation.
She also said Turkish Airlines offers free tours of Istanbul for all international transfer passengers who have a flight through Istanbul.
Their transit time should not be longer than 24 hours and shorter than six.
Smith, who publishes a magazine titled, Everything Turkish, praised Turks for their hospitality and cuisine which she said is well priced.
''There is a reason for everyone to visit Turkey, whether it’s one of the 491 blue flag beaches to relax on, or to see the world’s only blue flag lake, the Van Lake,'' she wrote in a piece published in the magazine that was distributed to guests attending the workshop.
‘‘Perfect for the adventurous mind, this friendly country is modern in its offerings, superb value for money and in my case can become addictive for multiple reasons,'' Smith wrote, adding that she always looks forward to each trip to Turkey.
Turkey is one of the leading tourist destinations in the world and attracts millions of tourists annually who come to view its archeological sites, cultural and natural beauties.
Last year, Turkey's Culture and Tourism Minister Mehmet Ersoy announced plans to double the number of visitors and attract 70 million tourists and $70 billion by 2023.
A representative of the South African tourism body told Anadolu Agency it was also busy wooing Turkish tourists to come to South Africa and visit some of its sites.
He said Turks who visit South Africa can enjoy seeing wildlife and nature hand in hand during game safaris or simply relax at some of South Africa's great beaches amongst others.