TURKEY

Turkey's Cappadocia visitors up 21 pct in first half 2019

Cappadocia, one of Turkey's most attractive tourist destinations, has seen nearly 21% rise in its visitor number in the first half of 2019 compared to last year.

With its unique fairy chimney volcanic cones, valleys, underground cities, cave hotels and hot air balloon rides, Cappadocia is a charming touristic hub in the central Nevsehir province.

The region is preserved as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Some 1.5 million tourists visited museums and archeological sites of the Culture and Tourism Ministry in January-June 2019, which marked a 20.8% rise year-on-year, according to an official data.

June topped the period with over 428,000 visitors, the Directorate of Culture and Tourism in Nevsehir said.

The Goreme Open Air Museum was the top touristic site with almost 649,000 visitors in the same time period.

According to the ministry figures, the touristic sites attracted over 1.2 million visitors in the first half of 2018, which is dubbed "the golden year," due to high number of visits.

Mustafa Durmaz, head of the Goreme Tourism Development Cooperative, said that 2018 was the peak of the tourism in the region, but this year's figures have beaten all the previous data.

"Cappadocia is a unique natural wonder, and it stands out with activities it offers," he said, adding that people visit the area to ride hot air balloons or just to watch them from below.

"We are expecting more visitors until the end of 2019," he said. Mostly people from crowded countries such as Russia, China and India prefer to visit Cappadocia, he elaborated.

The ministry's half-year tourist numbers over the past four years are as follow:

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