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Another Curiosity: Could the Bosphorus Bridges be Tourist Friendly?

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Sedat Bornovalı
Sedat Bornovalı
24/11/2015
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Firstly, as a principle, attractions made tourist-friendly will be made useful for our country. Like Bosphorus Bridges.

When my opinion was asked as a contribution to the Hotel magazine’s 100th, I briefly mentioned this, and today I would like to go into detail on Turizm Global.

This might give away my age, but I remember that during my childhood it was possible to walk from one continent to the other freely by using the Bosphorus Bridge’s pedestrian path. But in the following years the pedestrian entrance to the bridge was blocked off with the “revoke what you can’t manage“ principle.

The reasons were varied, but mainly two of them were repeated. One was that, some pedestrians committed suicide and the other was that drivers watching pedestrians caused traffic congestion.

Although we all know that the reasons are invalid, it is most probably an opportunity lost to avoid responsibility and a rejection of a big contribution for Istanbul in order to keep the status quo.

I check and noted the comments made on San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge on the much-used Tourism review site Tripadvisor about 120 days ago. 18,000 comments were made about the bridge on that day, and today it almost reached 23,000.  On the other hand, 13,000 were made about the Topkapi Palace on the same day and it’s just over 16,000 comments today.

The amount of people that walked over the Golden Gate Bridge and commented on the site, are 40% more than people who visited and commented on our unique Topkapi Palace.

Besides, it’s not possible to say a bad word about the Golden Gate Bridge; it doesn’t hold the same semantic power of the Bosphorus Bridge, which connects two continents Europe and Asia. Especially when the view from the Bosphorus Bridge has Sultanahmet, Topkapi Palace and the Haghia Sophia, there’s no comparison.

On the contrary, instead of a pedestrian crossing ban on the bridge, suicide attempts still take place. On occasions people stopping their cars and running to the railing in an attempt, usually not succeeding, adds more congestion to the heaving traffic. Fortunately the TV channels stopped broadcasting these events, so the effect has lessened.

Of course it’s important to try to prevent the accidents, but blocking off areas in which accidents might happen, just in the case that somebody might attempt suicide doesn’t make sense.

It’s highly possible to assume that when social groups organize their reservations with payments made beforehand isn’t going to lead to any suicide attempts. If someone is determined to commit suicide surely he can commit it during the Eurasia Marathon, which takes place on part of the Bosphorus Bridge.

If you’re not taking tourism professionals opinions into account, at least we can ask suicide experts opinions. They might be able to scientifically explain why anyone would attempt suicide, just because they are on a bridge, when they can attempt it elsewhere.  If it’s that serious we might as well close the bridge altogether. Is it more precious that human life?

Also, if there were so much risk involved in suicide attempts and accidents, a famous singer accompanied by a minister that walked over the bridge years ago would have been under great risk. So if it’s allowed, with some confidence, it is possible to say that risk is very low on controlled trips over the bridge.

In short, opening up the pedestrian paths for tourists on the Bosphorus Bridge and the third Bridge, after taking necessary precautions, would create a great attraction organized by the tour agencies registered to TURSAB.

Tours providing pricy intercontinental walks on the bridges, with professional tourist guides, using wireless headphones to give information organized by the tour agencies registered by TURSAB would be a great adventure for visiting tourists.

Taking into account that hundreds of thousands of tourists are paying a lot of money and waking up early in the morning to go on balloon tours. It’s not out of the question to assume that tourists sacrifice more to go on a symbolic and aesthetic walk between two continents (going viral on social media with selfies). I don’t think it would surprise anyone to add about 60-70 Euro value per head.

Furthermore, taking into account that the new bridge opening is going to create some sensation and using the semantic power of the Black Sea and the endless view of the North could definitely be seen as a certainty as a second walking track

I can assume that the organizations that provide walks to Asia across the Bosphorus Bridge and then back to Europe from the Black Sea route would create great demand.

That sort of walk, on the one bridge, would take half a day and nearly a whole day with the two bridges, and it could become a real adventure. This attraction would motivate tourists to stay an extra night when the average stay is 3 days in Istanbul.

So, I wonder why we’re still waiting to set up such tours, organized and authorized by tour agencies and professional tour guides, that will create added value to the promotion of Istanbul instead of waiting for the once a year event, the Eurasia Marathon.

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