Friday, January 05, 2007

Antalya a Hot Spot for Football, Tourism During Winter

The following article appeared in Friday's Turkish Daily News regarding the popularity of Antalya for winter football camps. I don't typically post items from the Turkish Daily News, nor do I read it often do to their blatant bias against Fenerbahce, but this was a nice article on Antalya and what the winter football camps mean to them. Please visit http://www.turkishdailynews.com.tr/article.php?enewsid=63170 to read the full article. Here is the text:

Friday, January 5, 2007

Many local and foreign teamsare rushing to Antalya, which offers good training camp conditions and tournaments like the Efes Cup

ANKARA - Turkish Daily News

Turkish teams have long been escaping south during the winter break, but there is now a growing realization in central and northern Europe that in terms of facilities, service and above all cost Antalya is capable of competing on better than even terms with longer-established winter camp venues in Spain, Portugal, Greece and southern Italy.

Almost every Turkcell Super League team arranged a winter training camp in the Mediterranean province during the winter break. Galatasaray, Beşiktaş and Trabzonspor have already started their camps, and Fenerbahçe flies to Antalya today. Moreover, not only Turkish clubs, but also many major European clubs prefer the “Turkish Riviera” for mid-season and pre-season camps.

The Efes Cup 6 tournament, which has become an annual feature of January life in Antalya, will be held at the Kundu WOW Football Center on Jan. 8-11. Beşiktaş and Galatasaray will compete for the title, both for prestige and the prize money, along with German side Werder Bremen and Feyenoord of the Netherlands.

On Jan. 8, Beşiktaş will face Werder Bremen and Galatasaray will take on Feyenoord on Jan. 9, both at 8:00 p.m., and the final match will be played between the winners of the two matches on Jan. 11.

Huge income:

It is estimated that soccer tourism will bring approximately 36 million euros into Antalya during the current winter tourism season.

According to reports, around 1,200 teams will have held training camps in Antalya between January and the end of March.

A Super League squad consists at the very least of 20 players. Most clubs have more than that, and coaches often use winter training camps to give promising juniors who are not yet in their first team squads the opportunity of working out with the senior professionals.

Not all the 1,200 teams visiting Antalya are out of the top drawer and some have smaller squads, but when an average of 20 spread across the 1,200 is assumed, it makes 24,000 players right there, representing a very large number of hotel beds.

First EAFE on Jan. 12-14:
Antalya has realized what winter tourism means to the city, and everybody is doing their best to contribute.
The first-ever Euroasia Football Expo (EAFE), a platform where companies from the global soccer industry will display their products and services, will take place on Jan. 12-14 in Antalya.
Besides providing excellent networking opportunities and speakers from the globe's soccer industry, the three-day program will also feature a conference and an exhibition.

Why Antalya?:
Some clubs from outside Turkey have become regulars, returning year after year, an indication that Antalya is on the whole providing satisfaction. The weather can be the main drawback. During January and February it often rains heavily for several days at a time. The hotels that have their own training pitches have paid great attention to the matter of drainage, but there is no drainage system known to man that can cope adequately with a four-day Antalya downpour.

However, when outdoor training is impossible, all is not lost. The big hotels have gymnasiums, though nowadays they mostly prefer to call them “fitness centers” where players can stay in shape. And they have well-equipped meeting rooms where coaches can discuss tactical matters.

A few years ago most of the hotels closed for the winter, but this has changed. Hotel owners have realized that key members of staff are not prepared to work on a seasonal basis and have to be paid year round if they are to be retained, and even an empty hotel costs a good deal to maintain.

Now the majority try to stay open throughout the winter. There is heavy business at New Year's, when many Turks take a break and travel south. The Belek establishments received a boost when the nearby National Golf Club opened, and it has since been joined by several other courses. Golf provides a steady stream of off-season guests.

They are going out and marketing their product in the main target areas. Those most heavily involved in this market offer soccer packages with special group price deals, guaranteed use of a training pitch and meeting room at specific times and perks such as free laundering of kit.

Friendlies:
The number of teams in the region in winter brings them one fringe benefit in that there is absolutely no difficulty in arranging friendly matches against opponents of whatever quality is required. This generates still more revenue for the locals as pitches and match officials have to be hired. When hotel pitches are used, the hotels make an extra charge and municipal and other stadiums find themselves pressed into service as well.

The Efes Cup tournament is only the tip of the iceberg. There are a number of games going on along the coastal strip from Kemer to Alanya on any day of the week in January, and this has created a sub-sector of its own with certain travel and other agencies taking on the role of match organizers.

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