Population booms in summer resorts close to Istanbul due to virus fear

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The population in the summer resort towns neighboring Istanbul, like Şarköy and Marmara Ereğlisi in the province of Tekirdağ, is about to double, triple, or even sextuple in the winter as most of the vacationers are not willing to go back to the metropolis due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking of the region that it is getting crowded due to vacationers, Şarköy Mayor Alpay Var said, “Şarköy’s population is around 32,000, and with the vacationers, the number has skyrocketed to 300,000 in the summer.”

The mayor estimates that the winter population might triple this year to be around 100,000.

The situation is more pressing in Marmara Ereğlisi. The numbers have increased six-fold in the district, where around 26,000 people reside.

“We expect to host 150,000 people this winter due to the rise in the coronavirus cases,” said Hikmet Ata, the mayor of the district.

It seems that vacationers have already started preparing to stay in these resort towns, which are some 100 kilometers away from Istanbul. Some have applied for natural gas, some have stockpiled wood or coal, and many have been carrying out renovations in their houses to make it ready for winter.

Ayten Gülgün is an Istanbul resident who chose to stay in her summer house in Şarköy. “When the pandemic began in March, we were stuck in our house in Istanbul for four months. We do not want to go back. We will spend the winter here.”

Talking about the continuously increasing number of cases in Istanbul, Kader Güngör, living in Marmara Ereğlisi to spend the winter, said, “We are more free and relaxed here, so why go back?”

On the financial front, due to the vacationers, the small business owners and labor men are in benefit.

The craftsmen of the two summer resort towns are happy to see the people coming as it is an opportunity for them to make good sales of their handicrafts.

Mehmet Ali Çakmak, a business owner, said that after the season ends, markets are usually shut down, but this year he will go on working.

İbrahim Kocabay, a natural gas plumber, is especially thankful to the pensioners who stayed and applied for the natural gas. “Earlier, there were only three to four houses for installation per week, but due to them [pensioners], my workload has increased by 40 percent.”

As more and more vacationers are willing to move, it surely will affect the winter economy of Şarköy and Marmara Ereğlisi, but Var prays for an end.

“God willing, the pandemic will finish as soon as possible, and everybody will go back to their peaceful lives,” the mayor of Şarköy said.

Hurriyet Daily News

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