Airlines and travel agencies are allowing people to reschedule flights planned around that weekend for free and municipalities in some holiday resorts have even put out spoof warnings to discourage Istanbul residents from visiting on that weekend.

A beach in the Turkish Mediterranean resort city of Antalya, a popular destination for both Turkish and foreign tourists.
A beach in the Turkish Mediterranean resort city of Antalya, a popular destination for both Turkish and foreign tourists. (Reuters)

Istanbul residents are cancelling holiday bookings for the weekend of June 23 to ensure they can take part in a rerun of the city's mayoral election.

Don't come to Bodrum on June 23, the district council said in a tongue-in-cheek travel advisory aimed at Istanbul residents, as heavy snowfall is expected and the beaches will be shut. 

Summer temperatures in the Aegean resort average 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit).

But behind such jokes is a serious message – every vote counts after the candidate of Turkey's main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) won the March 31 mayoral race in the city of some 15 million people by just 13,000 votes.

After weeks of appeals by the governing AK Party that alleged voting irregularities, Turkey's election board on Monday ordered a rerun of the mayoral race.

"We are in contact with 5,500 travel agencies and we have been informed that nearly all reservations departing from Istanbul [that weekend] have requested cancellation, almost 100 percent," said Cem Polatoglu, a spokesman for Travel Agencies Platform.

High turnout

Berke Ertunc, 35, said he would have cancelled his trip to Beirut even if the airline company had not offered him a full refund.

"When we see the previous election [on March 31] was won by 13,000 votes, even one vote counts in this election," he said.

Turnout in Turkish elections tends to be much higher than in many Western countries. Some 84 percent of Istanbul's registered 10.6 million voters cast their ballots in the March vote.

Turkish Airlines said it would allow customers to change flights between June 21-26 free of charge on trips booked ahead of the rerun announcement. Pegasus Airlines and others are also allowing free flight changes or cancellations.

And just to make sure Istanbul residents are getting the message about their civic duty, the municipality of Adana on the Mediterranean coast issued an advisory saying the city was expecting temperatures of 150 degrees Celsius (302 degrees Fahrenheit) on June 23.

Source: Reuters