Turkey has breathtaking natural beauty, historic and cultural sites, along with greatfood, all these characteristics make Turkey one of the top tourist destinations in the world. Istanbul is the cultural and historic city of Turkey, and Istanbul and Antalya were at the top of the most visited destinations. Both of these cities hosted nearly 30 million tourists in 2019. 

Ali Bilir, Vice Chairman of the Association of Turkish Travel Agencies (TURSAB) said that Turkey has diversified its tourism industry to a great extent by adding new sites to its list of destinations. The security scenario in Turkey has improved in the past few years, which has attracted more and more tourists and created a positive perception in the minds of travel enthusiasts.

Covid-19 and Tourism Industry

Covid-19 has affected many high-risk industries such as manufacturing, tourism & Travel, and transportal retail. All these industries are struggling the most. The year 2019 was the best ever for Turkey, however, in 2020, Turkey’s tourism revenue was badly affected. However, due to this hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic in the punishing year 2020, professionals started to search for alternatives to diversify their products for a better season in 2021 and the industry is continuously making efforts to ensure a safe holiday for guests, tourists, and travellers.

Pre and Post-pandemic trends

  1. The number of incoming tourists to Turkey increased by 13.7% in 2019, attracting 51.8 million people, which has set an all-time record.
  2. In Turkey, the pandemic led to up to $12 billion in lost revenue and slashed tourism rates by 75% in the first half of 2020 compared to the previous year.
  3. When the Covid cases started to increase in Turkey, Turkey imposed travel bans on 68 countries including China, South Korea, Norway, United Arab Emirates, Austria, Sweden, Belgium, Egypt, United Kingdom, and many others.
  4. When Turkey imposed travel bans on these countries, including some other most important markets, the country’s aviation sector was expected a $5 billiondrop in revenue in 2020.
  5. Many tourism reservations were cancelled and hotel occupancy rates have dropped below 30% in some areas.
  6. Turkey was labeled as a success last year by the WHO (World Health Organization) due to its fast actions in containing the virus. 
  7. Turkey witnessed a V-shaped recovery in the tourism industry in 2021.
  8. The tourism industry in Turkey proved itself with more resistant to crises compared with those of many countries and industries.
  9. In 2020, several short-term measures under the leadership of the Republic of Turkey Ministry of Culture and Tourism had been undertaken to keep industry stakeholders afloat similar to the initiatives of many other countries.
  10. Turkey considered this pandemic crisis as an opportunity to establish permanent structural changes in Turkish tourism.
  11. In 2020, the “Healthy Tourism Certificate” program was started with the aim to convince travellers that despite the global pandemic, Turkey’s beaches and historic treasures will be safe to visit this year, with rigorous checks on airlines, local transport, and hotels.
  12. Healthy Tourism Certification program covers a broad range of measures that shall be taken towards transportation, accommodation, and health condition of employees of the facilities and passengers. 
  13. The certification program of Turkey consists of 4 main pillars which are “Health andSafety of the Passenger”, “Health and Safety of the Employee”, “Precautions taken at Facilities” and “Precautions taken in terms of “Transportation”.
  14. More transparent and detailed information was provided to earn the confidence of tourists.
  15. The ministry launched new regulations and strategies to increase visitor numbers and revenue from tourism.

Contribution of Tourism in Turkey

  1. Tourism is one of Turkey’s most dynamic and fastest-growing economic sectors.
  2. In 2018, it directly accounted for 7.7% of total employment, directly employing 2.2 million people.
  3. Total tourismincome represented 3.8% of GDP.
  4. Travel exports accounted for 51.9% of total service exports in 2018.
  5. Turkey attracted 45.8 millioninternational tourists in 2018, an increase of 21.7% compared with 2017 which generated TRY 142.4 billion in tourism revenues, a 12% increase compared to the previous year.
  6. According to 2018 border statistics, top inbound markets included Russia, accounting for 13.0% of total international arrivals, and Germany with 9.8%.
  7. Other topmarkets include Bulgaria (5.2%), the United Kingdom (4.9%), and Georgia (4.5%).
  8. Domestic tourism is growing in Turkey with a total of 126.4 million trips recorded in 2018.
  9. Domestic tourism had an increase of 4.6% when compared to 2017.
  10. in 2018 trips, 78.5 million were overnight visitors (62.1%) and 47.9 million were same-day visitors (37.9%).
  11. In terms of growth, Turkey’s Tourism Ministry reports that most incoming tourists were from Russia with seven million people visiting Turkey in 2019, followed by Germany, with five million visitors arriving the same year.
  12. Bulgarians were in third place with 2.7 million visitors visiting the country, followed by the UK and Iran. The UK and Iran were in the fourth and fifth spots.
  13. Turkey is working hard toward the goal of reaching the target of hosting 75 million guests by 2023. 

Tourism Industry Insight

  1. In 2021, most foreign tourists in Turkey came from Russia, Germany, and Ukraine.
  2. In 2022,Russia and Ukraine are at war, and visitor numbers are down — meaning tough times ahead for Turkey’s tourism industry.
  3. Firat Solakm, who runs a travel agency in Antalya said that the hotel sector is hardest hit by the war.
  4. Turkish companies are seeking ways to get Russian tourists into the country.
  5. Turkey hopes visitors from other countries, such as Germany, will offset this shortfall in Russian and Ukrainian tourists
  6. According to “Tourism Strategy of Turkey-2023”, there is a need to help infrastructure-related and environmental problems occurring at locations where tourism activities get denser and this should be solved with joint efforts and contribution of local government and private sector enterprises.
  7. The “Future is in Tourism”program has shifted its focus to Muğla (one of the Turkish regions hardest hit by 2021’s forest fires) region to promote sustainable tourism.
  8. Recognizing the heightened threat to tourism posed by climate-driven disasters, the project also aims to conduct awareness-raising activities on forest-fire risks for local residents.
  9. This program will also install water tanks at high-risk locations in the region to support quick reactions to forest fires.

Other tourist-related facts and statistics

  1. Turkey is the 6th most visited travel destination in the world.
  2. Turkey offers an interesting alternative to the more well-known Alps or Pyrenees.
  3. Tourists also enjoy Turkey as a great winter skiing destination.
  4. Despite being the largest city in the country, and the most visited, Istanbul is not the Turkish capital.
  5. Istanbul is unique as it is the only city in the world to span Asia and Europe geographically.
  6. Young tourists with an interest in boats and the sea like to find out about the Uluburun shipwreck discovered off the shore of Kas in 1982.
  7. tavuk göğsü”, a milk pudding made with shredded chicken, is a popular dessert in Turkey.
  8. Antalya, the 8th biggest city in Turkey, is famous for its beaches and is a great destination for a seaside holiday
  9. Turkey provides cheap accommodation for as low as $7 per night with a free continental breakfast.
  10. Mid-range hotels range around $79 per night. They provide cloth racks, free toiletries, hairdryer and minibar with other facilities too.
  11. High-end hotels start from $120. They provide a private beach, private balcony, flat TV screen, safe, VIP room facilities, and much more.
  12. In Istanbul, shopping at the Grand Baazar, taking pictures from the top of Galata Tower, taking in the nightlife in Ortakoy, and sipping Turkish coffee are some of the favourite hobbies of tourists who visit Turkey.
  13. Cappadocia is every photographer’sdream and visitors who love photography visit this beautiful city.
  14. Mount Nemrut is a top sightseeing viewpoint and visitors want to visit this place during sunrise to watch the breathtaking view. 

References

https://www.trtworld.com/turkey/what-is-behind-turkey-s-tourism-boom-33533

https://www.kearney.com/documents/783760/825173/COVID-19+and+Effects+on+Turkey_v1.pdf/0cce22fb-e035-f16a-49f1-70deeb5cc112?t=1585067844932

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-turkey-tourism-idUSKBN22Y1YJ

https://www.visasturkey.com/antalya-travel-guide/

https://www.visasturkey.com/interesting-facts-about-turkey/

https://theplanetd.com/destinations/middle-east/turkey-travel-tips/

https://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkey-eyes-35-billion-in-tourism-revenues-in-2022-170769

https://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/sites/f3b16239-en/index.html?itemId=/content/component/f3b16239-en#:~:text=Tourism%20is%20one%20of%20Turkey’s,total%20service%20exports%20in%202018.

https://www.dw.com/en/turkeys-tourism-sector-battling-fallout-from-the-war-in-ukraine/a-61698095

https://www.tga.gov.tr/about-healthy-tourism-certification-program/

https://www.undp.org/turkey/press-releases/%E2%80%9Cfuture-tourism%E2%80%9D-has-invested-us2-million-turkey-over-15-years

https://www.ktb.gov.tr/Eklenti/43537,turkeytourismstrategy2023pdf.pdf?0&_tag1=796689BB12A540BE0672E65E48D10C07D6DAE291