Turkey's biggest theme park opens at a difficult time

The opening this month of biggest leisure and entertainment park in Turkey, The Land of Legends, in the visitor hotspot of Antalya, comes amid a particularly testing period for tourism companies in the country.

The number of foreigners visiting Turkey plummeted more than 40 per cent in June, official data showed on Thursday, marking the biggest drop in at least 22 years as tensions with Russia and a series of deadly bombings kept tourists away.

Operators of the The Land of Legends, which was designed and built as a joint venture by Rixos Hotels, Emaar Properties and Dragone Productions, will be hoping that the numbers soon recover.

And, an increasing number of businesses in the country seem to think they will, along with a rebound in the wider economy.

Turkey’s index of economic confidence has hit its highest level so far this year in July, rising 14.9 per cent to 95.7, the Turkish Statistics Institute said on Thursday.

July’s reading was the highest since December 2015, the data showed.

Tourism chiefs aim to pull in the crowds with the huge park which, according to Rixos, “takes children, youngsters and adults on the journey of their lifetime, an experience full of adventures and excitement, with a new interpretation of entertainment”.

Located in Belek, Antalya, 27km from Antalya International Airport, Land of Legends offers the world’s first musical boat feast, according to Rixos, and the “Kingdom”, Turkey’s first hotel specially designed for children.

It also incorporates the Water World, the Tower of Legends and the Water Coaster – 43 metres high on which passengers hit speeds of up to 86kph. There is also a “5D cinema”, where guests enter with their swimsuits on (quite why is not revealed by the operators), as well as surf and wave pools, while there are also regular shows performed by original characters specially designed for the park.

“The Land of Legends Theme Park offers everybody from seven to 70 a breathtaking ambience in a so far undiscovered world of magic,” gushes Rixos.

“As soon as the guests enter this hitherto unheard of land of fantasy and imagination, they become involved in a huge stage show. Everybody writes and lives her or his own legend in this bewitching world.”

In what the operators say is Europe’s biggest water world there is also an underwater safari, “where many sea animals can be watched, as well as specially heated pools for a great experience and unforgettable moments for the whole family”.

The park also featureas an area resembling a volcano, where waves rise 2 metres from “eruptions” in the wave pool.

The park’s accomodation offer guests in rooms and suites entertainment such as PlayStations, Barco vision and double-screen Led TVs, and there are a range of restaurants and bars. A spa centre and fitness centre are also on site.

Dragone Productions says the theme park is a new concept for multi-sensory experiencesand and says Land of Legends is the first realisation of this. Emaar Properties, meanwhile, is responsible for the shopping centre management.

Still, despite the attractions, the park has some significant hurdles to overcome. Tourist arrivals to Turkey fell 40.8 per cent year-on-year in June, with 2.44 million people visiting during the month, data from the tourism ministry showed. That was the biggest drop on record, according to the data, which goes back to 1994.

The previous record fall was set in May, when tourist arrivals dropped by 34.7 per cent. Tourism has been hit hard by tensions with Moscow after Turkey shot down a Russian jet over Syria last year. While Ankara and Moscow have recently started to rebuild ties, tourist arrivals from Russia dropped 87 per cent in the first six months of the year, the data showed.

Rixos remains undeterred.

“We aim to be a trendsetter brand that can produce lifestyle choices by following trends and technologic developments and learning the demands, needs and expectations of our exclusive guests,” says Mehmet Tulunay, one of the company’s hotel managers.

Still, Land of Legends will have its work cut out to overcome the current land of reality in Turkey.


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