The major tourist areas around Bodrum, Marmaris and Antalya are threatened by ongoing wildfires.

The death toll is now at six and many tourists, including Dutch, had to be evacuated.

It is another blow to the already troubled tourism sector.

Many affected citizens, meanwhile, feel abandoned by the government.

Turkey had a dramatic summer season last year as a result of the corona crisis and travel restrictions.

Where Turkey welcomed 52 million tourists in 2019, there were only 12.7 million last year.

Turkey is invariably in the top ten of most visited holiday countries by the Dutch.

In 2019 1.2 million compatriots went there.

The wildfires come at an unfortunate time, as August is typically one of the busiest months in Turkey.

Moreover, tourism was recovering a bit and many travelers from countries such as Russia and Ukraine were back in the hotels in the south in recent weeks.

Turks themselves were also present in large numbers during the holiday around the festival of sacrifice last month around the seaside resorts of Bodrum and Marmaris.

The fact that precisely the areas around Bodrum, Marmaris and Antalya are affected is doubly unlucky, because they are three of the five cylinders on which the tourism engine runs.

The other two are Istanbul and Izmir.

Time will tell how much damage there is besides material damage.

But it is already clear that hotel owners and other stakeholders will have another disappointing season.

But presidential planes and palaces, no fire-fighting planes

Meanwhile, criticism of the government is mounting.

Turkish Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Bekir Pakdemirli and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had to admit last week that Turkey currently has no deployable fire-fighting aircraft.

The three copies that could be deployed first came from Russia at a lease rate of allegedly 130,000 euros per day.

Russia, Iran and Ukraine are now helping with sixteen fire-fighting aircraft.

That was against the sore leg of the affected citizens and the opposition, who expressed their displeasure on Twitter.

For example, people wondered why the president has 13 planes at his disposal, but the country has no functioning fire-fighting planes.

In addition, critical Turks point out that although money was available for Erdogan to renovate the presidential villa in Marmaris to palatial proportions for tens of millions of euros, there apparently is not enough money for firefighting.


Dutchman films smoke cloud from forest fires in Turkey

Erdogan visits affected area

In addition, residents are concerned about the fate of the affected forests.

In the past, the opportunity has been taken to build large hotels after a wildfire, despite solemn promises not to do so.

Coincidentally or not, last Wednesday a law came into force that makes it possible to build in (coastal) areas that do not fall under the development areas of the Ministry of Tourism.

Erdogan can determine which areas those are.

The municipalities in the coastal areas, which are often controlled by the opposition, have been sidelined in the decision-making process.

President Erdogan tweeted that the government will do everything it can to reforest the burned areas.

The president visited Antalya and Marmaris on Saturday to catch up.

He also spoke to the family of a killed firefighter.

In addition, he traditionally handed out bags of Turkish tea.

Pakdemirli said on Sunday that 107 of the 112 fires have now been extinguished.

According to him, the strong wind makes it difficult to put out the last five.

It is also very hot in the area, with temperatures around 40 degrees.

Thousands of firefighters are working to fight the fire.

Drones and 45 fire fighting helicopters will also be deployed.