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Grigory Pasko: Holiday of Champions

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Turkey. Holiday. All Inclusive…

Grigory Pasko, journalist

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In Antalya (Turkey), the International Congress of Journalists has ended. As a rank-and-file participant in this congress ( I represented the freelancer class, and, in part, the blog www.robertamsterdam.com), I could not help but notice that just about the main participants in the event were top-level representatives of the tour-business of Turkey. By the way, this is understandable: with this participation they were killing, at a minimum, two birds with one stone: they sponsored the congress and were counting on Russian journalists one way or another writing something about Turkey and holidaying in it.

They guessed right: here I am writing about just this.

For starters, a few numbers. The year 2008 advanced Turkey into theranks of the top ten most visited countries in the world. The quantityof tourists comprised 26 million persons (in the year 2007, thisindicator was equal to 23.5 million). In the year 2008, around 3 mln.tourists from Russia visited Turkey. “These numbers bear witness to thehigh level of our economic and trade relations”, – noted president ofTurkey Abdullah Gül recently at a meeting with Russian presidentMedvedev. I don’t know about economic relations, but touristic ones areclearly thriving (true, what any of this has to do with Medvedev – isnot clear).

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Inasmuch as I resided in the hotel «Champion», I made the acquaintanceof its proprietor. Mr. Osman Ayık turned out to be also the Presidentof the Association of Mediterranean Hoteliers “AKTOB”. Despite hisnearly 60 years he – is energetic, active, enterprising, and everywhereat once. One could feel a clearly athletic temper in the former civilengineer. This is understandable: he used to engage in sport, while hisfather – is the freestyle wrestler Ahmet Ayık, a celebrity in Turkey.In the year 1964 at the Olympic games in Tokyo, he conceded gold to theRussian [actually Belarusian–Trans.] superhero Alexander Medved. Butthen a year later at the world championship he defeated Medved andbecame the champion. In the year 1968 in Mexico City, Ahmed Ayıkalready won gold in the 97 kg. weight category.

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I met with Mr. Osman Ayık, it goes without saying, in the «Champion»hotel. Osman-bey recounted about how he had become a hotelier;described the prospects for the development of the tourism industry ofTurkey in the year 2009. In his words, Turkey, despite the crisis, isplanning a growth in incomes from tourism and an increase in the numberof holidaymakers approximately by 10%. In the Ministry of Tourism forthe year 2009 it is planned to spend around 50 million euros only onadvertisement of Turkish resorts. This, in the opinion of hoteliers,will allow to reinforce the image of Turkey as a place for aninexpensive yet comfortable holiday.

By the way, besides the traditional beach holidays, well-to-dotourists will be offered wonderful golf courses, thermal springs,resorts for winter holidays and for sailing sport.

And who are these well-to-do tourists? The answer is simple – Russians.Even such a traditionally «German» hotel as the «Champion» was unableto withstand the onslaught of Russian tourists – there are practicallyno Germans here any more. On the other hand, just one day alone – 11May – I observed pandemonium: over 250 Russian tourists arrived at the«Champion» – not a cheap hotel, by the way, five-star.

Like many hotelsalready, the «Champion» offers the always popular “all-inclusive” scheme.Russians, of course, like it that they can make use of alcoholicbeverages from 10 in the morning until 24 at night. Besides alcohol, itgoes without saying, the hotel has everything necessary for afull-fledged holiday. (To my subjective view, internet hookups in theguest rooms wouldn’t be a bad idea – this is, after all, a service thatin the majority of the hotels of the world is considered ordinary).

antalya2081809.jpgThe creative approach of the Turks to tourism, by the way, can be seenin other things as well. For example, the congress of journalists didnot take place in Turkey by sheer chance. The fact is that here theyare already making full use of the opportunities offered by so-called«congress-tourism».

Besides this, it has been known for a long time that many foreignfootball clubs, including Russian ones, annually conduct training inAntalya.

…In Osman-bey’s office on a little table lie magazines about thetourism business. His office is perpetually open for visitors. Thepersonnel of the hotel work snappily even in instances of mischief byRussian tourists. I was witness to how employees either of the police,or of the FSB (dressed, it goes without saying, in civilian clothing)were boozing away noisily at night. They were congratulating oneanother with successes « in operative work», were praising one of theirown for struggle with corruption, work in the public chamber and aprestigious reputation among (!) journalists. One phone call toreception was enough for the workers of the hotel to get the «operativeworkers» to quiet down.

Leaving the hotel, I though to myself: they will survive the crisis -both the Turks with their tourism business; and the Russians with theirdon’t-give-a-damn attitude to any crisis.