Tourists continue to flock to Turkey, despite border turmoil as ISIS fighters advance across Syria.
It is expected that 42 million tourists will visit by the end of the year, which will increase tourism revenues to 35 billion dollars. That’s six percent more than last year’s figures (Turkey’s tourism revenue in 2013 was $32.3 billion).
The president of the Association of Turkish Travel Agencies, Basaran Ulusoy, claims that the changed perception of Turkey has contributed to the increase, but also to the suppression of all the negative consequences of the problems at the border.
“Turkey is not the same country as it was during the first Gulf crisis [in 1991]. People know that Turkey is a safe country,” he said.
In July, 5.2 million tourists visited the country, which is an increase of 13.52 percent compared to the same month of 2013. Between January and July, the number of tourists reached 20.5 million, an increase of 6.8 percent.
Comparatively, in 2000 there were only 10 million tourists.
The number of tourists coming from Iraq, Iran, Greece, Russia, Bulgaria and Great Britain has increased significantly.
How Turkey came to the world stage
Clever marketing has ensured that Turkey has become a strong global brand, marketing its sights from the Aegean and the Mediterranean to the Black Sea. A subtle shift away from the traditional attraction of sun, sea and sand has seen Turkey thrive as a destination for healthcare, culture, major conferences and events, and even sports.
Yachting has seen a lot of investment, and sailors now head to Turkey to traverse the vast coastline, exploring islands and coves, visiting 17 yacht harbors and using some of the best marinas in the world. Cruise ships are also increasingly visiting the country’s Aegean and Mediterranean ports.
Istanbul capitalized on its cultural, historical and retail assets, attracting 32 percent of the country’s visitors, narrowly edging out Antalya whose beaches and sun attracted 31 percent of visitors.
The Turks are boarding
However, it is not only foreign tourists who are realizing the value of Turkey. As the country’s middle class grows, more Turks are taking vacations — embracing the Western concept of vacations as a necessity, not a luxury. Last year, 13 million Turks traveled, of which eight million went abroad. The government aims for 35 million Turks to reside in the country by 2023.