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Alcohol ban final nail in hotel’s coffin

People enjoy the sun and the sea along the Kadinlar Beach of Kusadasi.

People enjoy the sun and the sea along the Kadinlar Beach of Kusadasi.

Published Jan 27, 2014

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Ankara - An ancient Turkish hotel that has long been a favourite of VIPs from around the world has been forced to close its doors... because of a government ban on alcohol.

The Okuz Mehmet Pasa Caravanserail, a stunning Ottoman era inn in the Aegean seaside resort of Kusadasi, simply cannot afford to keep running, its manager Ali Acundas told AFP.

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“We have already made losses over the past years due to changing economic circumstances,” Acundas said.

“But the latest ban on alcohol sale dealt a fatal blow to our business that we cannot survive.”

Turkey's ruling Islamic-leaning Justice and Development Party (AKP) introduced controversial legislation last May restricting consumption and advertising of alcohol in the predominantly Muslim but traditional secular country.

Establishments in Turkey such as hotels and restaurants with licences to sell alcohol are not usually affected by the ban.

But Acundas said the Okuz Mehmet Pasa - which dates back to 1618 - could not escape the restrictions because it came under a foundation run by the prime minister's office which is responsible for historic monuments in Turkey.

“Former US president Jimmy Carter, former Greek prime minister George Papandreou, as well as foreign diplomats and NATO commanders were among our guests,” said Acundas.

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The 26-room hotel, which once employed around 30 staff, is now having to get rid of the final six, he said.

But Acundus said he hoped there would still be a future for the hotel at some stage.

“What we are currently facing today is temporary. I am sure mistakes will be fixed. There will be definitely be a way out,” he said. - Sapa-AFP

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