Istanbul´s Grand Bazaar

The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, also victim of the coronavirus

Considered one of the main attractions for tourism in Istanbul, merchants of the Grand Bazaar lament that in recent days the number of foreign tourists has fallen by 60%.

The historic Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, considered one of the largest covered markets in the world and undoubtedly one of the great attractions for tourism in Istanbul, has also begun to severely suffer the consequences of the coronavirus, even though no case of the feared COVID-19 has been detected in Turkey.

The associations of merchants of the market lament that during the last 10 days the 64 streets of the Grand Bazaar and its 2,500 shops have noticed a huge drop in the number of tourists, despite a beginning of the year that was very promising.

“Now it is the outbreak of coronavirus that distresses us. The number of visitors in the Grand Bazaar has fallen dramatically in recent days due to the epidemic,” Hasan Fırat, president of the association of merchants of the Grand Bazaar, told the economic newspaper Dünya. He estimates the drop in visits is about 60%.

“We are worried that this may get worse. Stores normally open until 7 pm in winter, but merchants now close at 5:30 pm and go home,” Fırat lamented, noting that in recent days not a single bus has arrived with tourists to the market.

Another merchant in the Grand Bazaar confirms the bad situation but not because of the coronavirus, but says that for years, sales have dropped by 80%: “We need tourists, who normally come from Europe, Canada or the United States, to spend with generosity. But today we have Chinese, Iranian and Arab tourists in their place, who don’t spend much. The average spending per visitor has been reduced from $1,200 in 2014, to $ 617 last year,” he lamented.