By Arife Yildiz Unal
ANKARA (AA) – Turkey’s Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure together with the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (SHGM) granted approval to nine more destinations in Turkey to host hot air balloon operations.
Turkey’s central Nevsehir province, Cappadocia is known as a region which attracts tourists with hot air balloon rides over its cone-shaped rock formations.
Alone in 2017, a total of 329,390 tourists enjoyed a bird’s-eye-view of famous tourist spot with a hot air balloon ride.
The nine new destinations which will join Cappadocia to contribute to Turkey’s tourism are Bucak district of Burdur province, Pamukkale town of Denizli province, Kozan district of Adana province, Ahlat district of Bitlis Province, Polatli district of capital Ankara, Ihsaniye district of Afyonkarahisar province, Eskisehir's Seyitgazi district, Samsun's Bafra district and Ihlara district of Aksaray province.
In order to further develop the potential of the country in the hot air balloon sector, the SHGM also granted license to five hot air balloon companies for commercial aviation activities in the Pamukkale region, while another three companies already received the pre-permission.
Turkey holds the world's largest commercial operation in the field of hot air balloons with its traffic volume, number of passengers and the number of days in the air.
According to the data of SHGM, a total of 239 hot air balloons of 25 companies operate 260 days yearly in Cappadocia. The rides attract around 500,000 tourists annually.
European countries such as Germany, UK, France and the Netherlands can operate hot air balloons for not more than 60 days per year due to the weather conditions, according to the SHGM's Nevsehir representative office.
The country with the closest number to Turkey is Kenya with 150-170 days of flights yearly. In Australia, commercial balloons operate 110-120 days yearly with 100 balloons.