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What could be more delightful than a hassle-free sip of tea? Photo: Shutterstock
What could be more delightful than a hassle-free sip of tea? Photo: Shutterstock

Places

No hustle, no hassle in Turkey

Charming, funny, and full of compliments, touts have long been part of the Turkish experience. But all that is starting to change.

Forcing your way through a crowd of obstinate touts when your stomach is rumbling and you just want to find a tasty meal can tire even the most enthusiastic of holidaymakers. Tourists have long complained about the insistent presence of restaurant hustlers.
“I want to be left in peace when I walk along the street,” says Kemal Yamanlar, Managing Director of the travel agency Nazar. “The authorities have been trying to address the problem of touts for a long time, but it is only since the arrival of our new mayor that more active steps have now been taken. I think this is a good thing.”
The ban on pushy salesmen started in 2000, but only recently did authorities really start to crack down.
“Several municipalities in Turkey, including Alanya and nearby Side, ban touts,” says Ilkay Uluisik, Information Officer for the Turkish Tourist Agency.
“Scandinavians are one of the many tourist groups who appreciate this crackdown. They prefer to wander around stores or browse menus in peace before making a decision. Anyone who has not been in Alanya and Side for a few years will notice that it is now much calmer,” she says.

Turkish cuisine is one of the most diverse in the world. Photo: All over press

A store or restaurant owner caught chasing customers will initially receive a three-day trading ban. A subsequent infringement brings a one-week ban. A third time and the trader loses their license. The municipality has installed CCTV cameras in popular tourist areas, which are backed up by “tout wardens” patrolling the streets.
Hacis Kuradag worked in restaurants in Side for many years, eventually running his own restaurant. He has now moved to Sweden and taken over the restaurant Thaigården in Höganäs in the south of Sweden.

Restaurant owners are against touts

“The authorities cracked down last summer. Some do still continue pestering people, particularly on the smaller streets, but it has become much rarer. I would say that 60–70% of all store and restaurant owners are against touts. Personally, I think letting people browse my restaurant menu in peace and quiet makes for a far friendlier atmosphere. Perhaps they prefer to check other menus as well, in which case I wish them a pleasant holiday and say they are welcome to come back another evening. I think this is far more effective, particularly when it comes to Scandinavians.”
People in the industry are generally in favor of the ban.
“I usually talk about the new Alanya. The town is a role model of how you should work with tourists. They have not only tackled the problem of touts, they have also given the town a general face-lift, making pavements accessible to everyone, ensuring goods do not spill onto the pavement outside stores, and that restrooms are clean and hygienic,” Yamanlar says.

 

Text: Anna Wahlgren

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