By Burak Akinci
Traffic congestion has become increasingly prominent in Türkiye's tourism hub Antalya since it expects to welcome as many as 16 million visitors this year, breaking the all-time record in 2019.
Recep Yavuz, head of the Antalya City Council's Tourism Working Group, told Xinhua that waiting a long time in traffic jams has become one of the major complaints of foreign visitors and dampened their delights of enjoying Antalya's endless sunshine, long beaches, and numerous resorts.
Yavuz said tourists could spend more time shuttling from the airport to hotels or tour companies than they spent on coming to Türkiye, adding that the traffic woes loom larger in the peak season between May and September.
He explained the tourists' dissatisfaction is considerable "when they waste an entire day of their holidays in traffic on the road."
Selim Yener, an Antalya-based tour operator, attributed the traffic problems to the influx of tourists and the limited capacity of Antalya's roads and highways, among other infrastructures, in coping with the surge of tour buses.
Experts and industry insiders warned that traffic congestion could make the region's public image dismal.
A local official told Xinhua on condition of anonymity that all stakeholders have agreed to figure out swift solutions to traffic congestion across Antalya's tourism resorts.
Measures are implemented to expand the capacity of transport infrastructures to handle more tourists.
As one of the busiest airports in Türkiye, Antalya airport is currently undergoing a comprehensive renovation and expansion project that will double its annual passenger capacity from 40 million to 80 million.
The first phase of the project, which began in January 2022 and is scheduled to be completed in January 2025, includes the construction of a new runway, terminal building, and cargo handling facility.
Hamit Kuk, an advisor to the chairperson of the Association of Turkish Travel Agencies, also called on the central government and local authorities to increase funds for the modernization of the province's road infrastructure in the next years.
Kuk said the traffic problem in Antalya constitutes a "national and urgent issue to tackle for the tourism industry," as 20 million tourists are estimated to visit the Mediterranean tourism hub, also the country's fifth most populous province, within five years.
Tourism is a pillar industry for Türkiye, as the country is grappling with runaway inflation and in dire need of hard currency.
The country has set a target of $56-billion in tourism turnover for this year amid a leap in foreign arrivals, especially in Antalya resorts.