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18.09.2008

Alanya to lead environment-friendly cities

Alanya, the popular tourist spot of Mediterranean region, has many foreign residents. Hasan Sipahioğlu, the mayor of Alanya who gives importance to environmental issues says, the residents of the city are willing to cooperate in saving plans of the city,' and adds, 'As long as the number of the inhabitants grows, the economy of the city will govern'

ASLI SAĞLAM


Alanya, one of the most popular tourist spots of Mediterranean region, had a busy summer. The restaurants, hotels and beaches were full of foreign tourists. Yet, domestic tourists showed a great interest in the city as well. The city, which welcomed many foreign residents in recent years, has an intelligent mayor who is looking forward to a bright future.

"People can never see my pictures around the city, hanged on the walls like posters," said lawyer-turned-mayor Hasan Sipahioğlu, who has a cheerful face and doesn't like showing off. He never held glossy campaigns before elections. "I cannot advertise what I do; The things I do, the service we offer people as a municipality is part of our job, it's not something extra that we do," he emphasized. He is against organizing parades with expensive cars carrying him around the city to collect votes: Pipahioğlu thinks it just creates sound pollution. He prefers walking and talking to craftsman and shop owners, sharing ideas and listening to complaints. He just prepared a booklet about the municipality, which also mentions its success stories from the last election, when he was re-elected as mayor.

Sipahioğlu first became mayor in 1999. From that day on, he has aimed to fulfill projects that people from different occupations and businesses can benefit. "Alanya is a tourism city and we are trying to make everyone happy here. Of course this also counts for tourists," he said. "There are people investing in Alanya to spend the rest of their life."

It is obvious that Turkey has a water problem, he said, adding that "residents in Alanya are aware of that and they are willing to cooperate in preparation plans for the city. The biggest problem today might be the oil prices but soon water may well be one of the expensive goods in Turkey."

Bikes to conquer roads

Alanya's mayor gives importance to environmental issues and since he thinks Alanya is not a big city, it is easier to launch projects to save the environment.

One of the upcoming projects is that the municipality will build 20 terminals. These terminals will not be for busses, they will be for bikes. They will buy 150 bicycles, which will be ready for the ones who want to use bikes, instead of cars in the city. Bikes will be available to the ones who get a card from the terminal. The ones who ride those bikes don't have to take them back to the same terminal after they reach where they want; they can leave them in another terminal.

"The aim in this project is to specify how many people are willing to use bikes and on which routes they prefer to ride. We also want to make people get used to seeing bikes in the traffic," said Sipahioğlu. "Alanya's climate and the roads are suitable for riding bikes."

Full season

Emphasizing that all summer season Alanya, which has a 150,000-bed capacity, was full, Sipahioğlu said tourists were not the ones who preferred all inclusive programs. Most of them were here to enjoy the city, nature, and cultural and historical sites.

Whereas tourists prefer the summer season, Sipahioğlu said the best season for Alanya starts in September and continues until the end of November. April, May and June are also preferable to enjoy Alanya, according to Sipahioğlu, who said the best time to try Alanya's wine is April and May. Most of the land in the city is used for agriculture.

Sipahioğlu said there were 5,000 settled foreigners in Alanya and they have opened restaurants or work in property companies. Most of them prefer spending winter and spring in Alanya and the rest of the year they go back to their own countries. Instead of renting out their apartments, they give the keys to their relatives and close friends come and stay in Alanya. 

"In the past years Alanya was like an abandoned city, but now that people started buying houses it has triggered sales in the shops," said Sipahioğlu. As long as the number of inhabitants grows, the economy of the city will grow, too. The foreigners and pensioners moving to Alanya created new work in the city. "Mostly with the foreigners' wills and needs the variety of goods sold in shops increased, even the coffee places started selling different types of coffee," said the mayor. "A couple of years ago one wouldn't be able to find anything else than Turkish coffee in the coffee shops. The bakeries offer tens of different types of bread."

Alanya is among the cities, which is preferred by couples who want to get married. In 2007, 285 foreigners organized their marriage ceremony in the city of Alanya.