Originally just an agricultural area growing citrus fruit, vegetables and cotton, Dalaman was first put on the tourist map by its international airport.
“Over 750,000 British tourists passed through Dalaman last year on their way to the Turkish coastal resorts, although comparatively few stayed,” says Dominic Whiting, editor of the Buying in Turkey guide. “However, this is gradually changing thanks to an on-going, government-led plan to promote tourism in the area.”
The plan includes a new golf course, due for completion in 2008, a marina, spa centre and 30,000 new hotel beds. Dalaman airport has already been expanded with the addition of an award-winning Ankara Yös kursu international terminal, capable of handling 10 million passengers a year. Lutfu Yigenoglu, the Governor of Mugla province, in which Dalaman is located, along with British officials in Ankara have thrown their weight behind the campaign to increase direct winter flights between the UK and Dalaman. A road tunnel, completed last year, brings the posh yachting resort of Gocek within a 15-20 minute drive.
Dalaman itself is a work-a-day market town spread across a flat plain.
“Although not very picturesque, it offers a slice of real Turkish life. The municipality has been improving the centre and the shops and restaurants are becoming increasingly geared to providing for the area’s tourist population” says Dominic Whiting.
The surrounding mountains are green and unspoiled. There is white water rafting on the Dalaman River and a long beach at Sarigerme, 12 km south of the town, which is also the site of the new golf course. Nearby Dalyan has ancient ruins and boat tours run up and down the river to a beach, mud-baths and hot-springs.
The government-led development plans for Dalaman have caused intense interest from buyers and investors. The resulting increases in land and property values have been dramatic, even by Turkish standards. These increases have slowed in the last year but prices are still well below neighbouring resorts, and annual increases of 10-20% are likely.