A changeover in beach management responsibilities left tourists visiting the famous Oludeniz beach last weekend with out shade, sunbeds, refreshments or other facilities.
The dramatic sweep of Ölüdeniz beach, finishing with the unique lagoon, is the face of Turkey’s Mediterranean tourism. In the height of the season thousands of holidaymakers visit the resort every day.
In recent weeks the lucrative contract for the management of Belcekız beach and the Lagoon, the rental of sunbeds and parasols has become an increasingly contentious issue for the regional government, Muğla’s recently established Metropolitan Municipality, the Fethiye Municipality and local businesses.
Last Sunday afternoon, as temperatures rose and tourists flocked to the beaches, official confusion resulted in sunbeds and shades being removed, cafeterias, public loos and showers being closed and the electricity and water being disconnected.
People were aghast to see the sunbeds and sunshades they had hired being unceremoniously removed from under them by a team of Jandarma and those that had paid to use the lagoon were no long able to buy refreshments or food from the beach café.
The following day photographs of a beach devoid of sunbeds and people were posted on social media. It could have been funny if it didn’t have such serious implications for Fethiye’s tourism sector.
And all this was because the contract for the management of the beaches, which for several years previously had been under the control of MELSA, part of the Muğla Governorship, was instead awarded to a private limited company.
Several companies had pitched for the contract but others had hoped that the beaches would be contracted to Fethiye Municipality, providing the authority with funds for public works and infrastructural projects, like sewage treatment, drains and road surfacing.
It would not be unreasonable to expect contracts for important tourism areas such as Ölüdeniz to be resolved before the start of the season, before the tourists arrive.
Failing that, any mid-season handover should be handled discreetly, to ensure that holidaymakers are inconvenienced as little as possible. However, in this case, neither of these were the case.
Tourists were shocked and upset by what happened, and local business owners were angry but the way in which last weekend’s events played out on the beaches.
Now Open for Business
It was almost 48 hours after the abrupt removal of the beach furniture and closer of the cafés that the beaches resumed a semblance of normality.
On Tuesday afternoon sunbeds were delivered by lorry and the following day that sunshades made an appearance.
With midday temperatures in the high 30s and low 40s it was too hot to sit on the beach without cover and although some holidaymakers had made their own arrangements, other tourists were observed queuing up for the new supply of sunbeds and were seen carrying them down to the beach themselves.
It can be assumed that negotiations over the management of the beach will continue and that Fethiye municipality will do all it can to get control of the beaches in its area but until then it must be hoped that the pleasure of sitting on a beautiful Mediterranean beach with overcome any negative feelings about the brusque and ill-mannered way in which the lifeblood of Ölüdeniz tourism (tourists) were treated.