6 Apr 2009

Too many at Gallipoli on Anzac Day - guidebook

6:46 am on 6 April 2009

A leading Australian guidebook publisher is recommending that backpackers avoid going to Gallipoli to pay their respects on Anzac Day.

Lonely Planet's commissioning editor in Australia, Will Gourlay, says crowds who sleep under the stars as they await the dawn service on 25 April have topped 22,000 people, putting environmental pressure on the area.

Mr Gourlay believes heavy promotion to expatriate Australians and New Zealanders living in Britain is behind the big rise in visitor numbers.

One Gallipoli tour operator, Ramazan Altuntas, says overall visitor numbers have increased, but the proportion of those using local services has dropped.

Mr Altuntas believes British-based companies rush visitors through on shorter trips.

Lonely Planet's call follows a plea by the Returned and Services' Association to New Zealanders to spread out their visits to Gallipoli instead of descending in droves on Anzac Day.

RSA president Robin Klitscher says the influx is probably too much for the site.

Mr Klitscher says it is an extraordinary act of generosity for Turkey to have allowed memorials and annual commemorations, over the past 90 years, for what was an invading force.

Mr Klitscher says he has heard that more than 1,000 busloads can arrive in the area on Anzac Day and he is asking New Zealanders to consider whether this is acceptable or sustainable.

Mr Klitscher says visiting Gallipoli at other times of the year is a chance for quieter reflection.

But tour operator Robyn Galloway says roads have been widened to cope with tourists on Anzac Day and the majority respect the sombreness of the occasion.