Thousands of Iranians have flocked to the eastern province of Van for discounts amid the Black Friday shopping days that began on November 26 and will last until the weekend.
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Sparking a “Black Friday crowd” at the Kapıköy customs gate in the province’s Saray district, scores of Iranians filled the city’s malls and stores.
Officials say some 3,500 Iranians crossed the border in their vehicles on November 25 alone. Normally, around 800 people enter and leave the two countries on a daily basis.
Surveillance footage showed Iranians “almost crawling on top of each other while waiting for their passports to be checked.”
Speaking to Turkish media, an Iranian tourist said he was delighted to be in Van. “I’m here for two days. I do my shopping and take advantage of discounts, ”he added.
According to local officials, the Iranians have filled all the hotels in the province. “The occupancy rate of hotels is around 100 percent,” said an official.
Traders in the province are extremely pleased with the influx of Iranian tourists.
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“If they can’t find a place in the hotels, we can accommodate them with us,” a shopkeeper laughed.
The number of Iranians visiting Van was around 220,000 in 2016. The number doubled to 440,000 in 2017, but fell to 230,000 in 2018.
After a huge jump in 2019, due to the coronavirus pandemic, only 73,000 Iranians could come to Van in 2020, as the Kapıköy customs gate was closed to vehicle and pedestrian entrances on March 24, 2020.
Turkey opened the door a year later, on May 9, but due to the increase in COVID-19 cases on the Iranian side, the door could be fully opened on October 9, triggering the entry of Iranian tourists.
“Right after the gate opened, some 16,000 Iranians visited the city,” one official noted.
These days there is a Black Friday rush at the border.
“Iranian tourists are a vital point for Van,” Yunus Yüksel, head of the Van Hotel Owners Association, told Demirören news agency.
“Let them come. We are waiting here to serve them,” Yüksel added.
According to official data, 98% of Iranians stay in the city at least one night. Only 2% of Iranians cross the border for a day trip.
According to statistics, the money spent in 2018 by Iranians in the city was around 231 million Turkish liras ($ 19 million), while the amount spent per person was around 1,200 pounds ($ 99). .