BY FEHMI KOFTEOGLU
The UK has removed Turkey and Spain from its red coronavirus travel list. Thus, Brits, who are fully vaccinated, will not have to get tested before arriving and the compulsory PCR will be replaced by a rapid test as of October 4. In this case, will Brits choose Spain or Turkey for weekend vacations and mid-term school breaks?
The UK-based retail post office company Post Office’s Travel Money Barometer offers some insights. Turkey is a cheap and ideal option for Brits in terms of family holidays. Contrary to this, European countries are more attractive for the two-day weekend holidays considering the ease of transportation.
The Post Office has determined the cheapest and most expensive cities by surveying accommodation and dinner prices in cities where UK citizens may visit in Europe for two days on weekends. Tirana, the capital of Albania, takes top place in terms of low cost for the two-day weekend holiday for Brits, according to the Travel Money Barometer. Two-night accommodations totals GBP 61 in Tirana, while it amounts to GBP 221 in Belfast, the capital of Ireland.
Brits pay GBP 38 for a bottle of wine and three course evening meal for two people while they pay GBP 138 in Stockholm, the capital of Sweden. Turkey hasn’t been included in the Travel Money Barometer comparing accommodation and food prices in 40 European cities.
MARMARIS THE CHEAPEST
Marmaris has become the cheapest holiday destination for Brits as the GBP has appreciated against EUR, according to another survey conducted by Post Office. Marmaris is followed by Bulgaria’s Sunny Beach, Paphos in Cyprus, Portugal’s Algarve.
What do tour operators say?
►Jet2: Bookings jumped 250% following the new travel update. We’ll restart Antalya and Dalaman flights as of September 23.
►Wizz Air: We’ll continue to promote our guests for the mid-term school break in October or winter sun in November.
►EasyJet: Bookings for Mallorca, Antalya, Tenerife, and Sharm El Sheikh have increased for the mid-term school break in October.
►TravelSupermarket: Searches for Turkey jumped by 1,000%.
Villas disguised as hotels
New hotel construction is a good thing, even if it is a little truncated during the pandemic, but it should still be within the limits of the law. Unfortunately, there are illicit operations and the ministry, whose duty it is to prevent this, does little to stop it, despite repeated assurances that it “won’t be allowed”.
Villas ‘camouflaged’ as hotels was big business in Istanbul, Marmaris and in some other provinces before the pandemic, peaking in Bodrum. The issue, which has been forgotten during the pandemic, has come up again with the Bo Viera luxury residence and hotel project built by the Besa Group in Cetibeli Gundogan, Bodrum.
In 2019, Environment and Urbanization Minister Murat Kurum visited the area where the Bo Virea is located, conducting an inspection from sea and land, elements of the project were halted, and a decision was issued to demolish 12 blocs where 54 single units were located.
Nonetheless, the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report was approved by the Ministry two weeks ago. According to the EIA report, the final plan of the project includes a 90-room hotel, 310 residences and seven commercial structures. Apart from anomalies in the project, this is a luxury villa business under the cover of a ‘hotel’.
So what is the Ministry of Culture and Tourism doing about luxury villa real estate projects involving unearned income under the name of hotel, because the business is an illicit villa construction project carried out with an investment certificate obtained from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism? A structure, which is built with a hotel license. can’t be sold as a residence.
“The allocation from the government was received for 49 years on condition that it will be a 100% tourism facility,” Culture and Tourism Minister Mehmet Ersoy told daily DUNYA General Coordinator and veteran columnist Vahap Munyar about these projects. “Then they tried to turn it into a project where 85% of the structures consisted of villas. Should we let this happen?”
However, this practice continues, even on a small scale where a few rooms in villas are called a hotel. Thus villas, each valued at USD 1m, are sold under the cover of long-term renting. What has the ministry done about it? And what is it going to do?
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