Hoteliers in the Aegean resort town of Çeşme are preparing Ramadan specials that offer guests the chance to swim in the sea or relax by the pool as they engage in the traditional fast.
Though the town outside İzmir has always rejected the all-inclusive system, hotels are now planning to initiate special all-inclusive offers for Ramadan, during the hours between sunset and dawn, when Islamic law allows adherents to break their fast.
Learning from last year’s experience, when the local vacancy rate rose to 50 percent during Ramadan, hoteliers in Çeşme are aiming to create a beach-vacation concept configured to Ramadan conditions, given that the Islamic hotel month, which moves throughout the year according to the lunar calendar, will coincide with the high season for five or six more years.
Yakup Demir, the general manager of the Ilıca Hotel and a board member of a local hoteliers’ association, told the Anatolia news agency that Çeşme is mostly preferred by domestic visitors, so holy events such as Ramadan have direct effects on tourism.
Demir said that because Ramadan began at the end of the holiday season last year, tourists tended to end their vacations early. However, because it is beginning in the middle of the season this year, he said he did not expect a sharp decline in bookings.
“In 2009 bookings were slashed to 50 percent, but there is still demand this year. The occupancy rate in Çeşme for Ramadan will be around 70 percent,” he said.
The general manager added that all the hotels have made discounts of 30 percent for the holy event, resulting in some tourists planning their vacations to coincide with Ramadan. Demir also noted that the number of foreign tourists had increased this year.
“We designed publicity campaigns targeting Turks living abroad and these campaigns yielded good results,” he said.
The hoteliers in Çeşme have revised all of their services, from restaurant menus to special activities, Demir said, adding that dishes specific to Ramadan would be on the menus this year.
“We are also planning to keep the beach open until late and the pool will be open till 10 p.m.,” he said. “We are installing illumination systems on the sea, so people can swim after breaking their fast. We are also planning sports and entertainment activities for that time.”