Representatives of the Turkish tourism industry are unhappy that they will not receive any material benefit from the liturgy scheduled for September 6 at the Armenian Church of Surb Khach (Holy Cross) on Akhtamar Island.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the liturgy planned for this year will be held behind closed doors. This time, Van won’t be visited by as many believers as usual.
Meral Yildiz and Orhan Saglam, who touched upon this topic in the Turkish magazine “Shehrivan”, wrote that representatives of the Van tourism sector in a conversation with them stressed that it would be advisable to open the borders and, albeit with some restrictions, allow participation in the liturgy in Van.
Turkish officials also remind that this year marks the 8th time that the liturgy is held in Akhtamar. They also report that the pandemic, which negatively affected the tourism sector around the world, also affected Van province where the liturgy will not materially benefit the local tourism industry this year.
Abdullah Tunjdemir, president of the travel company Ayan, earlier told “Shehrivan” that the company had high hopes for a large influx of tourists during the liturgy at the Holy Cross Church.
Tundjemir also recalled that in the past, during the liturgy, tourists were forced to spend the night in hotels in nearby provinces since hotels in Van Province (the Armenian province of Vostan-Akunk) would become full quickly.
Journalists of “Shehrivan” magazine talked with Sabahatin Duran, a member of the board of directors of the Union of Hotel Owners of Van. Duran said that Armenians not only from Armenia but also from Iran and Iraq arrived in Van to participate in past liturgies – now, the borders are closed. He also recalled that about 1000 Armenians visited Van during last year’s liturgy.
In conversations with Turkish journalists, Turkish officials also did not hide that the main purpose of the annual liturgy held in the Church of the Holy Cross of Van with the permission of the Turkish authorities is the development of tourism and the increase of profit in Van.