Zafer Upar is a newcomer to Van, despite having only arrived in the Spring, he has made himself quite familiar with Van and the region. Mr. Upar provides some background, “Merit Hotels is a Turkish chain, and is the only chain represented in Van. With 90 rooms, we are also the largest and newest in hotel in the city, and the only hotel with an open swimming pool and pool bar.
Right now, the bed capacity in Van is way above requirements, as there are two 4-star, three 3-star and other smaller hotels in addition to ours. There has been a significant drop in visits by American groups this year, and our guests are mostly Japanese; Korean; Belgian and Dutch. There are very few French and English visitors, but quite a few Turkish groups. Until 1992/93 the-re were not enough hotel rooms in the city, then terrorism caused a severe decrease in tourism.
However, there has been an 18% increase in visitors this year. One of the biggest problems for people coming to the area are the restaurants, tourists want to see a variety of restaurants, but in Van only 2 or 3 cater to tourists, and those don’t have liquor licenses. However, Van’s biggest shortcoming is the lack of promotion. /I hotel only rents rooms, but Akdamar Church will rent my room 10 times and Hosap Castle will rent it 100 times. We need to get people to come to Van”
Tahir President of Bazaar Urartu
Bazaar Urartu, has been in the carpet business since 1986 and opened its second store in Van in May. The building, more reminiscent of a historical castle than a shop, attracts attention as much for its’ architecture as for its’ carpets. Leaving aside the colourful carpets, we lend an ear to Tabir Abi: “Turkish carpets are among the most valuable in the world, especially the Hereke, which when it comes to silk is superior to the Iranian carpet.
Increasing the level of exports requires a great deal of promotion, and that is lacking. It is necessary to tell the world, in the right way, that our situation has improved and to introduce our arts and our cultural riches.” Another name working on tourism development on the shores of Lake Van is Hikmet Deniz, owner of ‘Grand Deniz Facilities’. Located in Gevas County, this beautiful and well-kept facility also organises “Blue Voyages” on the astoundingly coloured waters of the lake. As you travel around Van, you become aware of the efforts, excitement, and hope of local people. From the travel- agent to the hotelier, from the merchant to the museum watchman, everybody is striving for the advancement of tourism.