Sunday, January 3, 2010

Turkey Announces 40 New Ski Areas

The number of ski areas in the world may be increasing rather than decreasing with hundreds of new centres having opened in Eastern Europe and in Asia over the past decade.
The latest country to announce a big increase in their ski area count is Turkey, where government ministers announced plans to open up to 40 small ski centres across the mountainous east and south east of the country over the next two years. Sports Minister Faruk Nafiz Özak announced that the Turkish government plans to promote winter sports for children and to boost socio-economic development in rural areas as part of its democratic initiatives in the region, which borders Iraq and includes areas with a Kurdish majority where sometimes violent conflict has occurred. Sports Minister Faruk Nafiz Özak is considering projects for encouraging winter sports for kids in eastern and southeastern provinces including Hakkari, Van and Tunceli. He said the projects could contribute to the government’s pursuit of social and legislative reforms as part of its initiative to end the decades-old conflict with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK. The first of the 40 planned centres are due to be built on the slopes of the Sümbül Mountain in Hakkari and on Harsi (Ovacık) Mountain in Tunceli. They are expected to be complete by the end of the year and open for the 2010/11 season. More ski areas are reported to be under construction in Turkey’s Ardahan, Van and Ağrı provinces, too. Existing ski centers in Siirt, Muş and Bitlis are being upgraded as part of the programme. "I find this project very important. The ski centers will boost socio-economic activities fueled by winter tourism in the region", said Özak told local media. "Skiing is not only a sporting activity, but also affects social and economic life. Skiing is the best option for eastern and southeastern Anatolian provinces that are covered in snow for more than six months a year".
Despite its reputation with Western European tourists as a sunshine destination, Turkey is one of the world’s most mountainous countries and is home to some of the highest peaks in the region. There is a long skiing history in the country and around 20 ski areas currently operational. A new cable car built by Doppelmayr opened recently to link an Anatolian beach resort with a ski area above. It provides the possibility for a combined ski and sun holiday with the 4/.3km long lift Europe’s longest cable car and the world’s second longest.