The world famous icon of holiday company posters, the Blue Lagoon in Ölüdeniz, is slowing turning green. And not in a good way, according to local hotelier and environmental campaigner, Günsenin Günel. She is worried and is seeking support for her online petition, asking the authorities to take action now.

Discharge of detergents and chemicals

Günsenin’s concern relates to the indiscriminate use of detergents and other chemicals by some local people, which can impact on the delicate eco-system of the lagoon, creating microscopic green algae, effectively turning the clear azure water, a rather murky and unattractive shade of green.

She has taken it upon herself to start an online petition through the web site, and when 100 people have signed, it will be sent to the Muğla Governor (the Vali).

She believes that the Governor will treat the matter seriously and enforce the use of biodegradable and environmentally products in the resort, which should in time, correct the balance of the water, returning it to it normal, natural colour.

A life-long connection

Günsenin Günel, (pictured below), runs a local hotel – the Oyster Residences; an elegant, yet quirky boutique hotel, which is a stone’s throw away from the picturesque and famous Ölüdeniz beach.

Günsenin Günel

She explains that during her childhood years and teens, her father built a summerhouse on the site where the Oyster now is, commanding stunning views of the sea, a matter of meters from the hotel. “We used to spend our summers here and we had many friends stay with us. Really, it is not so different from what I do here now with my guests.”

It is easy to understand why she is doing something about the problem, when others seem disinclined to be proactive about environmental matters.

Günsenin explained, “For me this is very important. Ölüdeniz is my home, my business and my life. I have been closely involved in this beautiful environment all my life. As a child I played here and it pains and saddens me to see the slow decline of the natural beauty of Ölüdeniz”.

Environmental tourism

“Communicating how we feel is important, and I know that Muğla’s Governor feels the same as I do. At the World Travel Market in London in November last year, and later in Ankara, he spoke at length about the benefits of cultural and environmental tourism, and with great commitment. I am sure that when he sees the petition something positive will be done.”

“In Turkish culture no person would invite a guest into their home unless it is clean and tidy. We should treat our environment and tourists the same way.”

What visitors really think

The beach and lagoon in Ölüdeniz – just over an hour’s drive from Kalkan, are very popular with the many thousands of tourists who visit the region every year.

A visit to web sites such as Trip Advisor reveals many positive comments. Typical of the 477 top visitor ratings is a recent one from Scotland. “The beach at Oludeniz is great, but the best part is the Blue Lagoon, this is a stunning beach and the area layout is excellent with the food and drinks area.”

But there are as many as 300 that express disappointment and concern. “Very dirty looks like a reservoir…” is one. Another says, “This is nowhere near as nice as it looks on the postcards or TV. Not as clean as I thought it would be.”

An iconic brand

If Ölüdeniz lagoon is to retain the important and iconic brand status it now enjoys for the promotion of Turkey, it is essential that the waters of the lagoon and beach are protected from the indiscriminate use of detergents, cleaning products and other chemicals.

Additionally, the area around it, described as a nature reserve, must be maintained, keeping it free from litter and waste.

According to Günsenin, MELSA, as a wing of the Muğla governorship that has several popular tourist sites under its protection, must ensure that responsible and sustainable action is taken without delay, to enforce the use of products that will not negatively impact on this incredibly sensitive and beautiful part of the Turkish coast.

How to sign the online petition

If you wish to support Günsenin Günel in her efforts, please visit the following web site and sign the petition: Ölüdeniz Blue Lagoon petition here

It is in Turkish, but the message says, “MELSA. Governor of Mugla, Ölüdeniz lagoon and beaches: the Blue Lagoon should be kept clean by the use of biological products”.

On the right hand side of the page, you should type your name, your surname, your email address, your town (where you live), and any brief comment you wish to make. Then click on the “İmzanı at” red button.

If you are happy for your name, surname and town details (but not your email address), to appear alongside your comments, keep the tick below the red button.

Jane Aktay