Scorching Temps Don’t Deter Vacationing Turks

Vacationers in Turkey are enduring sizzling heat as millions from Istanbul and elsewhere journey to the southern coast for Kurban Bayram, or feast of the sacrifice, a weeklong Islamic holiday.

Sweltering summers are nothing new for the country, but this year’s exceptionally high temperatures might be. According to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), a warming global climate has brought Turkey intensely hotter summers and declining precipitation, causing droughts.

This week, Turkey’s state meteorological service forecasts a high of 38 degrees Celsius in Marmaris, a popular tourist destination on the southern coast. That’s 8 degrees hotter than the average maximum temperature recorded from 1981 to 2010.

The heat does not appear to be sapping Turks’ desire to travel. In fact, many are bound for destinations that are even hotter than the cities in which they reside.

Vacationers told VOA they won’t be deterred by the heat.

“I sure feel like it’s especially hot this year in Turkey,” said Berat Yenilen, who is from Bursa, Turkey, about 90 kilometers south of Istanbul. “My family is quite conservative, so, nothing has changed about how I spend the Bayrami holiday. And we still go to visit our elderly family members.”

Beyond the religious holiday, many are departing on leisure travel, including Burak Esik of Istanbul, who said scorching temperatures are acutely felt in the city.

“The projection of the problem of rising temperatures in Istanbul comes from the fact that heat has excessively accumulated due to the absence of a full transition from spring,” he told VOA. “In other words, the humidity has increased. This raises the felt temperature and makes life unbearable for Istanbulites.”

Esik is vacationing with friends in Antalya, a popular city on the country’s southern Mediterranean coastline. When asked about holiday planning, he pointed to a variety of factors like cost and availability of social facilities, as well as the weather.

“Decisions for Bayram are now made by looking at the weather conditions of places which have a holiday option,” Esik said, adding that Antalya is a logical top destination.

“Because extreme heat has emerged as a major obstacle for people to take a vacation, most of the social activities meant for a vacation are oriented to the extreme heat,” he said.

Combating the heat is becoming increasingly difficult for some.

“I cannot cope with the heat,” Esik said with a laugh. “My only option is to sleep directly under the air conditioner as if I’m an enemy of the environment.”

Others say they aren’t bothered, including Kamil Erdem, an Istanbul resident originally from Antalya.

“I don’t feel a drastic change in the heat compared to last year,” he said. “As I was born and raised in the south of Turkey, one of the warmest places in the country, heat in Istanbul isn’t affecting me much. I used to confront temperatures of 40 to 45 on the hottest of summer days.” Erdem is traveling to Fethiye for the Bayrami holiday, a city not far from Antalya and his hometown.

“I would have done it again. It was possible to deal with the heat by staying in the shade during afternoon hours,” Erdem said.

Kurban Bayram, which celebrates Abraham’s obedience to God, officially lasts through July 23.