Hopes high for Anzac future

More than 10,000 Australians and New Zealander watch the ANZAC Centenary Dawn Service at the ANZAC Commemorative Site at ANZAC Cove, Gallipoli, Saturday, April 25, 2015. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, and Prince Charles and Prince Harry all attended the service. (AAP Image/Dean Lewins) NO ARCHIVING

Organisers behind the successful Anzac Day dawn service at Gallipoli are expecting almost as many people to pack the battlefield site for next year’s ceremony.

A day after 10,500 people crowded into the Anzac Commemorative Site on Gallipoli’s North Beach, Gallipoli dawn service, Australian services director Tim Evans said between 8000 and 10,000 people were expected for the 2016 service.

It is unlikely a ballot system will be used, however, meaning places will be available on a first-in basis.

Mr Evans said interest in Anzac Day spiked following the 90th anniversary in 2005 and numbers had been between 8000 and 10,000 for four years afterwards.

“Some of the things that might portend a continuing high level of interest is that some 42,000 Australians registered in the ballot and of course less than a quarter of those were successful,” Mr Evans told AAP.

One possible challenge to ongoing interest in Gallipoli for Anzac pilgrims is the focus on centenaries on European battlefields.

More than 6000 people attended the Anzac Day service at Villers-Bretonneux in France and interest in the French battlefield is expected to grown as the centenary of the April 25, 1918 battle, in which 1200 Australian soldiers were killed, approaches.

“As Australia’s focus on the First World War centenary moves to the Western Front from Gallipoli, we might find that the services that we hold in France and Belgium from 2016 to 2018 attract not only a high level of attendance but attract away some of those people who might have gone to Gallipoli,” Mr Evans said.

In Eceabat, the Turkish port town closest to the Gallipoli battlefields, life was returning to normal on Sunday, with police barricades removed from the streets and no sign of the thousands of security personnel and 304 tourist coaches that had filled the town and the peninsula.

Despite the quiet, and despite Gallipoli tourists increasingly travelling directly from Istanbul rather than staying nearby, hotel operators are confident interest in Anzac Day will be sustained.

Burak Bagci, managing director of Hotel Bagci in Eceabat, said he expected 6000 to 7000 Australian and New Zealand visitors in 2016.

“There were many people who wanted to come this year and missed out, so they will come next year,” he said.

Gallipoli-area hotels are not solely reliant on Anzac tourism either: already accommodation is booked up for the annual bayram holiday, which follows the Muslim month of fasting, Ramadan, in July.

Australians who attended the Gallipoli dawn service on short tours have expressed a desire to have a longer stay.

Darwin’s Tony DiCarlo, 55, attended with his wife and friends.

Mr DiCarlo said even before visiting the battlefield cemeteries he was was struck by the sight of the Gallipoli shores and imposing cliffs.

“There’s a real feeling for the place even though we just got here,” he said.

“I hope I can come back.”

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