Antalya: Turkey’s Mediterranean gateway ….

Antalya Duty Free Several resorts on Turkey’s coast are served by Antalya airport, which is why the shopping offer is principally geared to tourists.Antalya’s southerly and sheltered position made it an obvious choice for resort development in the 1970s though, today, it also acts as a gateway to the Turkish Riviera where holidaymakers spend their annual summer vacations. Confirmation of its role as a hub for close to 20 million sun seekers is the fact that among the very long list of airlines using its busy airport, national carriers are barely visible amid the charter companies that dominate the departure display boards.

The airport’s tourism strength also means that it carries more international passengers than bigger and better known Turkish airports such as Ataturk and Sabiha Gökçen International which both serve Istanbul, the country’s biggest city and best known tourist destination.

You might think that with the beach focus of its passengers, this would mean the airport shopping would be a bit of a write-off, with just a few tacky souvenir stores here and some fast food there, but it’s not the case. The passenger profile here is more mixed than expected. Apparently five star hotels abound in historical Antalya so, as well as typical Brits and Germans enjoying their two weeks of summer sun on a discounted package, there are also quite a few high-end vacationers knocking about, including large numbers of Russians, now a dominant segment of the air traffic, who are known to splosh a lot of dosh in the shops.

Prestige products are thus increasingly found at the airport’s duty free stores located in the arrivals, departures and CIP (lounge) areas. Operated by a joint venture, Nuance-Net, the main stores are open 24 hours • not surprising when some flights depart at 4am while arrivals after 1am are also common meaning that passengers are always in the terminals.Luxurious shopping is found at Quality Watches where Russians will often be seen browsing Raymond Weil, Tissot, Maurice Lacroix and Tag Heuer, among other brands, while the Cigar Club also attracts big spenders, drawn in by the subtle aromas of an extensive and pricey cigar range housed in what is claimed to be one of the largest humidors in the Antalya region.

Brand name cosmetics, luxury goods, liquor, tobacco, sunglasses, clothing, toys, confectionery and souvenirs are a given in the main duty free store, but there are also some innovations. Box of Delights is the place to sample typical local products • did someone mutter Turkish Delight? But there is more to the store than just that, for example different types of halvas. Gulluoglu, founded in 1871, is a pastry specialist and a premier gourmet brand in Turkey so a box of its baklava would not go amiss. Keeping with the sugar-rush theme, Chocomania has a mix of local and international confectionery brands and gifts for the kids.

Brands such as Swatch watches, and Guess and Longchamp bags, have prominent positions at the airport, but there are also two large boutiques for Benetton, which has its usual apparel range plus a large kids selection, and Lacoste where, as well as the iconic ´polo shirt´, you can see a seasonal selection of accessories from the brand’s newest collection.

Finally, if you haven’t already had enough of the Turkish street-market experience • in turns wearing and exciting • and not hugging a rug under one arm, while wearing your newly acquired takshita, then Bazaar is where you can pick up something similar in more relaxed surroundings, but without being able to haggle. It’s also busy, so elbows at the ready.

Antalya airport Fact file

  • Passenger traffic 2011: 25.1 million.
  • Airlines: More than 80, of which the biggest (by number of routes) are Sky Airlines, Corendon Airlines, Thomas Cook, SunExpress, Pegasus Airlines, Air Berlin, Condor, Thomson Airways, TUIfly, Turkish Airlines
  • The airport handles around 40% of all tourists coming to Turkey