Recent political crises experienced have negative impacts on the country tourism. In the first three months of the year, 20 percent decline took place in the number of tourists. Because of this decline in incoming tourists to İstanbul, historical and touristic places hankering for their old dynamic days. Grand Bazaar is the leading place among the mostly affected places by this situation. Tradespeople are quite distressed about this issue.
In this article, we are going to present a small research about the impacts of the latest news experienced on Grand Bazaar shopping market and their reflections to the commercial activities. However, before, we are going to touch briefly to the history of Grand Bazaar. Grand Bazaar is among the oldest covered bazaars of the world that is located in the center of Beyazıt, Nuruosmaniye and Mercan districts of Historical Peninsula that is witnessed to especially commercial history of old İstanbul. At the present time, it still maintain its importance as a trade center.
There are two covered Turkish bazaars which form the center of Grand Bazaar. Firstly, Bedesten-i Atik (Cevahir Bedesten) was settled down. The second important structure of the bazaar is Yeni Bedesten (Sandal Bedesten). The name of Sandal Bedesten is given because a cloth named Sandal is sold there, one way of which is weaved with cotton and the other is with silk. The year 1460, when Fatih Sultan Mehmet started the construction of Grand Bazaar is accepted as the foundation year. The original bazaar, in fact, was structured by Kanuni Sultan Süleyman as a wooden structure. The bazaar like a giant labyrinth is spread an area of 47000 meter square has approximately 66 street and the most dynamic and busy two stems are seen to be the streets of Kalpakçılar and Kuyumcular. In these stems, there are mostly jewelry shops and in these shops the products are offered for sale with variable prices and bargain rates.
As the Historical Peninsula which we define as “The Traditional City Center” of İstanbul Metropolitan Area is a significant touristic destination, it strengthened the is trade in this direction and lots of souvenir shops were opened in the Grand Bazaar which has a characteristics of the region’s trade heart. Since the tourism sector is rather vulnerable to diplomatic, political and economic breakups, this makes the commercial activities that are based on tourism, an open target to experienced and probably expectable crisis.
Alright, how recently experienced socio-political news, economical fluctuations affected the commercial life and shopping market of the Grand Bazaar?
Arising from the recently experienced socio-political news and terrorism events an uncertain security environment occurred and for this reason a decline is starting to be seen in the number of incoming tourists to İstanbul. In the number of tourist coming to our country, a little decline with a percentage of 0.1 is seen in 2016 by compared to the year 2015. In 2017 there became a sharp decrease with a percentage of 20 by compared to 2016 is observed. With the decline in the number of tourists resulted from the crises actualized, tourist circulation is rarefied in Historical Peninsula and our research area the Grand Bazar. In addition, because of the construction activities, Karaköy Kruvaziyer Harbor is closed which has an important role among the tourism resources that is a basic place for commercial activities, detracted the incoming tourist by this way from the region. Therefore, the revenues gained from tourism is declined to a large extent.
Starting from this point of statements, we have made an interview study with the authorities of the Grand Bazaar Board of Directors and shopkeepers. The aim of this study is to observing how tourism based micro-economy is affected and how much the trade market that is located in special destinations like the Grand Bazaar are affected.
In interviews done with Board of Directors of the Grand Bazaar, it is stated that there are approximately 3500 shops, 2500 of that are Out of the Inn and the remaining are in of the Inn shops in the bazaar. Recently, it is learned that there is an increase in the number of empty shops in the bazaar and there are approximately 100 shops are in a position of on sale and rent. Because of these adverse events, various activities are programmed with the aim of increasing the target customers and also bazaar restoration works are started that are directed by the board of directors.
Interview studies for the Grand Bazaar is done with eight shops that are located on the way of the most valuable and most busy stems which are Kalpakçılar and Kuyumclar. Most of the shops are jewelry and the study is done by both interview (half structured meeting technique) and conversation. Questions like area, frontal, if the shop users are proprietor of hirer, if the user is a hirer payment type of the rent (cash/gold/endorsement), rent price yearly/monthly, the rate of increase/decrease in gained endorsements compared to the last year, if the rents are affected by the rate of Dollar/Euro exchange are directed to the tradesman in questionnaires. In interviews done with the shops having an area between 7 and 20 meter square and frontal between 2 to 5 meter square in Grand Bazaar, it is observed that rent prices are monthly 750 USD/month/meter square in Kalpakçılar and Kuyumcular streets which are the most precious stems of the bazaar. The answer of the question “Resulting from recently experienced adverse events, is there a decline in endorsements?” that is directed to the shop proprietors/lessees, is “Yes” in full. The question asking how much the percentage of endorsement declined is answered that there is between 50 to 60 percent decline in the average. It is learned that the rents are mostly paid in Dollars and an average of 40 percent decline is experienced. In addition, some of the shops lessees state that although they are not meeting their cost of endorsements, they endure them since they expect that the recent adverse events will continue in one or two years and then everything is going to be normal. Furthermore, it is stated that the shop rent amortizing period which was exceeding 30 years, has become 20 year in the final stage. Interviews are also done with the region tradesman around. They stated that an extreme recession about the commercial activities of the Grand Bazaar took place, although they even may not be able to pay to wholesalers. However, they bear the losses with an expectation that market fluctuations will calm down. It is also stated that the shops which mostly appeals to the local resident and local tourists and located in the region of the Grand Bazaar and around, are affected less from the recent adverse events,
We realized from the interviews we have done that the sharp decrease in the number of foreign tourists have put the Grand Bazaar tradespeople into a tight spot. Rents, most of that are paid in Dollars, because of the functions on the exchange rate of Dollar, started to decrease by 40 percent but this has not been sufficient for shopkeepers who are struggling with making their payments. From the point of the current rents, the unit meter square in the bazaar reaches to TRY-denominated millions. However, opinions of both shop hirers and region’s tradesman are in a direction that the results cannot be predicted since crisis in the new period are large-scale and difficult to control. Nevertheless, tradesman anticipates that the market is going to be firmed in a one or two year period in the region and the Grand Bazaar.
As a result, it can be explained that the regions doing a tourism based trade like The Grand Bazaar, having a micro-economy in itself, are much more vulnerable to macro-economic and socio-political changes.