By Behcet Alkan
The number of tourists taking hot air balloon tours in the sky of central Turkey’s popular tourism destination Cappadocia increased by 63 percent in 2018.
According to a data gathered by Anadolu Agency from Directorate General of Civil Aviation, a total of 537,500 tourists took the hot air balloon rides in 2018, boosting tourism revenue of the country almost €70 million ($80 million).
There are 25 hot air balloon agencies in Cappadocia, where 100 balloons are allowed to take off in one go, sometimes 50 more balloons later in the day depending on the weather conditions.
The hot-air balloon tour price is ranging from €120 ($136) to €150 ($180) depending on the duration.
Mustafa Durmaz, an official from Cappadocia Tourism Development Cooperation, said hot air balloon tours in Cappadocia attract more tourists compared to the others in different countries.
"2018 was excellent in terms of tourism and the hot air balloon sector in Cappadocia. Almost 90 percent of the visitors wanted to take the balloon ride," Durmaz said.
"It makes a great contribution to the economy, and it also provides employment opportunity in the region," he added.
Cappadocia, located in the Anatolian region of Turkey, is preserved as a UNESCO World Heritage site and is famous for its chimney rocks, hot air balloon trips, underground cities and boutique hotels carved into rocks.
To get the authentic experience, tourists from all over the world prefer to experience Cappadocia’s landscapes and peak-like rock houses up in the sky.
Keeping the hot air balloon tour guides under strict control offers tourists comfort, safety and contributes to the region’s economy.
The hot air balloons are being tracked by a GPS system, allowing the speed limit and distance of the air balloons to be detected.
Cappadocia is also famous with its authentic Turkish restaurants but also offers samples of international cuisines in dozens of dining spots.
The region has been used as a natural film set for many film producers in the past.
Turkey's national air carrier, Turkish Airlines, or THY, offers daily flights to the Cappadocia region from Istanbul.