Turkey has huge potential for winter tourism and could host the Winter Olympics in the future, said Sarah Lewis, the former British Olympic alpine skier who is keen to become the Federation’s fifth and first female president. international ski resort (FIS).
“The Turkish Ski Federation is a great organization. They have really evolved their business. They recognize that they have fantastic opportunities in the country. With 60% of the country above 2,000 meters (6,560 feet), there is a lot of snow during the winter season and therefore a huge potential for the development of winter tourism, ”Lewis told Anadolu (AA) agency in a Zoom interview – before a meeting with the president of the Federation Turkish Ski, Ali Oto, Monday.
“I am very looking forward to meeting the President of the Turkish Ski Federation. Ali Oto is doing a wonderful job, not only in Turkey but also in the Balkan region,” she said.
Regarding her candidacy, which could see her become the first female FIS President, Lewis said: “It’s exciting. It’s a great opportunity. Skiing is a diverse sport. Athletes are well represented in both genders and in all disciplines, and this is not the case in leadership, without an elected representative. So it’s very important that our entire community is represented in terms of leadership as well, and not just on the playing field. “
“I have the skills, qualities and experience to be able to fulfill the role as well as strong relationships with all national associations and throughout the Olympic movement and the International Olympic Committee. So I really think I am the candidate who can best represent the interests of each of the traditional and developing countries, including the representation of women in the organization, who make up almost half of the athletes, ”she added.
She also said she would not take a presidential salary.
“I think the role of the president is to serve the organization. So that’s the commitment I’m making.”
On climate change, she said: “Climate change cannot be ignored. It’s a reality. In winter sports, the snow requirement is absolutely imperative. It is clear to address sustainability and strive to become climate neutral.
Regarding the ongoing pandemic, Lewis said: “We are in the midst of a global pandemic, and it has been going on for over a year now. The situation will not be different after the elections of June 4 (for the presidency of the FIS). Therefore, we must be able to take these measures urgently. “
“National associations, organizers, athletes and all members of our community have been affected by the pandemic, and I will introduce a COVID-19 stimulus fund to help them face the different challenges, situation, circumstances of each and how it can be better taken care of, ”she added.
If Turkey will host the Winter Olympics in the future, she said: “Absolutely – it is a reality by gaining more experience at the highest level in the 15 Olympic disciplines.”
Turkey’s eastern province of Erzurum was among the candidate cities for the 2026 Winter Olympics, which will be held in the Italian cities of Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo.
Last week Lewis announced his candidacy for the FIS President and published his manifesto, the FIS Piste Map, on his website www.sarah-lewis.com.
If elected, she would be the fifth and first woman president in the 97-year history of the FIS.
The former alpine skier had been with FIS for 20 years until October 2020.
The election will take place on June 4 as the current president, Gian-Franco Kasper, will step down after 23 years in the post.
The other three candidates are the President of the Swedish Olympic Committee and Vice-President of the FIS Council Mats Arjes, the President of the Swiss Ski Federation Urs Lehmann and the businessman Johan Eliasch.
Meanwhile, investments in Erciyes ski resort in central Turkey, another hot spot for foreign and domestic tourists along with Erzurum, have picked up steam thanks to the busy winter season despite the pandemic.
Resort president Murat Cahid Cingi told AA that the busy winter season in the region has put the need for amenities and accommodation back on the agenda.
“Despite the pandemic, Erciyes has had a very successful winter season,” Cingi pointed out, so the investments that started before the winter season are continuing, he said.
“The construction of the largest mountain hotels in Turkey, the Xperia hotel and the Radisson Blu hotel, continues in Erciyes,” besides the high altitude sports center in Kayseri municipality, he said.
“We are talking about an investment of almost 500 million TL ($ 70 million),” Cingi said.
Noting that the number of foreign tourists visiting Erciyes has increased significantly over the past four years thanks to charter flights, Cingi said the ski resort generated $ 100 million in revenue during the ski season from December to March.
New hotel investment
Recep Arifoğlu, tourism investment coordinator at Artaş Inşaat, said the investment in a four-star hotel on Erciyes mountain is expected to be completed on December 20 and will be ready for the winter season.
The total investment in the hotel, which will have 60 luxury rooms and a 1,500 square meter (approximately 16,146 square feet) spa, is $ 12 million, Arifo saidlu said.
“There will be an entertainment and sports area that will serve 2,000 people per day,” he noted, adding that the Radisson Blu brand would make the facility a “center of attraction”.
Addressing the reasons for choosing Erciyes for the investment, Arifoğlu said the ski resort stands out for its quality, size and technical facilities.
“Erciyes, which is one of the most modern facilities in Europe, has become one of the favorites thanks to its 120 kilometers (74 miles) of ski slopes and 110 kilometers of cable car serving a wide range of ski enthusiasts. , from beginners to Olympic Athletes. “
The mountain also attracts snowboarders, kites and snowmobiles in the winter, in addition to hosting downhill bike races and sports camps in the summer, he said.
Underlying the ease of transportation to Erciyes, Arifoğlu said: “It is one of the easiest ski resorts to access, as it is connected to Istanbul, Izmir and Antalya by direct domestic flights, by international flights to Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland and France, as well as charter flights to Russia, Ukraine and Poland. “
“You can reach the Erciyes ski resort in a 30-minute drive from the city center,” he said.
He added that the boom in the number of foreign tourists created the need in the region for a world-class establishment, so the hotel group decided to invest in Erciyes.
“In addition, being located near Cappadocia, another tourist region in Turkey famous for its fairy chimneys, and the newly discovered tourist values of Kayseri, increase the popularity of Erciyes in domestic and foreign markets.” , Arifoğlu pointed out.
The resort in Kayseri province, which offered skiers or snowboarders a safe and healthy vacation this winter amid the pandemic, was among the top five destinations among 30 entries from Turkey.
The Erciyes ski resort was also recently certified by Bureau Veritas, a company specializing in testing, inspection and certification, for having taken all preventive measures against the spread of the coronavirus.
In addition, Erciyes is the first and only ski resort in the world to have achieved Safe Ski Resort certification, according to a statement from the resort management.