TRAVEL >Turkey’s lavender paradise offers feast for tourists’ eyes
ISPARTA – Anadolu Agency
Turkey’s Mediterranean village of Kuyucak offers a feast for the eyes of local and foreign tourists with its beautiful lavenders, which flourish into their best shape in July.
Kuyucak in the southwestern province of Isparta contributes over 90 percent of the country’s lavender production, turning to purple during the hot season. The harvest season starts in August.
This village is situated in the foothills of the Taurus Mountains, 47 kilometers from the center of Isparta.
Thousands of tourists flock at high season to enjoy the visual spectacle in Kuyucak, where an average of 500 tons of lavender flowers are produced every year.
They take photographs of these flower gardens and taste various foods with lavender ingredients, from lavender honey to ice cream.
Isparta Culture and Tourism Director Osman Çot said lavender is the second aromatic plantation after roses, luring many tourists to the area.
The region also meets 65 percent of Turkey’s rose production, mainly for export.
Çot said lavender production had soared in the last few years thanks to new projects and workshops.
“The number of tourists visiting Kuyucak has now risen to 20,000 from around 5,000 a couple of years ago,” he added.
“Thousands of people rush to Kuyucak just to see these beautiful lavender gardens, and a couple of new hotels have recently been opened,” Çot said.
Haven for photographers
The head of the Isparta Art and Photography Association, Mahmut Toprak, said dozens of photography artists got into contact to get information about the region as well as its opportunities for accommodation.
The Culture and Tourism Ministry, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Anadolu Efes basketball club supported the “Lavender Scented Village Project,” in a bid to increase the contribution to the economy of lavender in the area in line with the “Future is in Tourism” initiative, according to the ministry’s website.
The village aims to diversify income-generating activities and the development of rural tourism.
Kuyucak villagers commemorate a rose merchant, who brought lavender seedlings from France in 1975 when lavender agriculture started in the village. He distributed lavender roots to families and people planted them in their gardens and along the roadsides, all of which led to the development of commercial production over the years. This village accounts for 93 percent of Turkey’s lavender production. The flower’s oil is commonly used in cosmetics, the perfume industry, and the pharmaceutical sector.