By Gokhan Ergocun
ISTANBUL (AA) - Turkey's famous resort city of Bodrum, located in the Aegean province of Mugla, is targeting to attract a million more foreign visitors through agritourism, its mayor said.
Agriculture is an essential field for Bodrum, which is a significant tourism destination on the global scale, Ahmet Aras, who is also the head of Bodrum Promotion Foundation (BOTAV), told Anadolu Agency.
"Very important developments are taking place in Bodrum for the development of agriculture and value-added production, we aim to diversify tourism by integrating tourism and agriculture," Aras stressed.
He noted that the city’s municipality established an agricultural department and organized a workshop for creating a five-year agricultural development plan in recent months.
"Agriculture is a strategic field, especially during the pandemic period, it has much more importance than the manufacturing and tourism fields," the mayor underlined.
The municipality and BOTAV determined the high value-added products of Bodrum and began to work for creating an ecological and agricultural tourism environment, Aras said.
In this regard, he said, producers are being supported by the municipality with grants, free agricultural lands, and consultancy.
- New trends: Gardens, farms
Aras highlighted that the municipality focused on ancient wheat seeds, medicinal and aromatic plants, endemic mandarin, grapes, and olive oil, and said it plans to establish touristic facilities related to the agricultural projects.
Bodrum's mandarin has aromatic value and its essence is used for producing cologne and some snacks.
The city has also 3,000-year-old olive production history, and deep-rooted olive oil factories.
Tourists can stay in these facilities and spend time in botanic gardens and agricultural fields, Aras added.
"Due to the pandemic, people now want to go to gardens and farms; organic product trend has increased much more after the global outbreak [of the coronavirus]," he recalled.
"Bodrum has not only sea, sand, and sun, we started to work on nature, agriculture, gastronomy, and sports tourism," he added.
He stressed that Bodrum welcomes around 1.5 million foreign visitors annually and it aims to host one million more tourists as a result of new projects.
He also said that the city expects an additional tourism income of $1 billion through new touristic projects.
- Bodrum's tourism income to increase
Serkan Ceylan, the general secretary of BOTAV, said the agriculture field has been vital in Bodrum since the ancient ages.
"The limited agricultural areas of the Bodrum peninsula are very suitable for agritourism and gastronomy.
"We have very important goals in terms of promotion, production, and added-value together with all our stakeholders in the short-, medium-, and long-term," Ceylan said.
The city’s annual tourism income is around $1-1.5 billion.
By diversifying types of tourism, he said, Bodrum's tourism income will increase by 40-50% in 10-15 years.
Turkey welcomed over 45 million foreigners last year and 39.5 million in 2018. Despite the pandemic, the country hosted around 11.2 million tourists in the first 10 months of 2020.
The country has world-famous touristic destinations, such as Istanbul, the Mediterranean resort city Antalya, winter-tourism centers Bursa, Kayseri and Erzurum, Aegean resort cities Izmir and Mugla.
Turkey is also among the top 10 countries with its agricultural incomes in the world and ranked as the first in Europe. Even in the pandemic, the country continues to export several agricultural products all around the world.