Why Istanbul's becoming the next big business hub

Istanbul is welcoming an upsurge in business travellers, welcome news to the city's hotel sector, and prompting a wave of infrastructure development around the city. 

After 2016's attempted coup, tourism in Turkey took a dip. While 42 million people visited Turkey in 2015,  this dropped to 25 million in 2016. However, as memories of trouble fade, and the Turkish lira remains low, those looking for cheap sunshine holidays are now returning to Turkey. Particularly so the Brits, who are currently enjoying a record amount of lira for their GBP buck. 

Turkey’s Ministry of Tourism and Culture have recently announced a 38 percent increase in foreign visitors to the country in the year to January 2018. Istanbul alone enjoyed the highest increase in hotel occupancy rates across the whole of Europe, totalling around 10 million visitors in 2017. 

These promising figures have coincided with a flurry of new, high-end hotels opening up in Istanbul, including the Millennium Istanbul Golden Horn, owned by Millennium Hotels & Resorts, which has been welcoming patrons since May this year. Other players in the Istanbul luxury hotel market include the Fairmont Quasar Istanbul that opened last year, and the Hong Kong and Shanghai Hotels Peninsular Hotel currently under construction in the heart of the city. 

Why Istanbul's welcoming more business travellers 

Rising visitor numbers is positive news for the economy, and those depending on tourism for their livelihoods. But what about income from business travellers and international conferences? Could this be the answer to the Turkish Tourism Strategy Plan of attracting 50 million visitors a year by 2023? 

President of Turkey’s Hotel Association, Timur Bayindir, has called for investment into attracting business travellers and companies holding conferences in Turkey to help visitor numbers grow and increase the interest of those looking to invest in Turkey. It certainly seems to be heading in the right direction, with new hotels, an airport and a financial centre all in the pipeline. 

Istanbul airport

Istanbul’s impressive new airport 

Geographically, Turkey sits at a convenient crossroads between Asia, the Middle East and the rest of Europe, making it an easy and convenient spot for conferences and meetings.

With the new airport due to be opening in this worldwide gateway later this year, it looks like business travellers are also being looked after. This airport is being built to replace the outdated Ataturk Airport in Istanbul, currently the 15th busiest in the world. So there’s certainly the capacity to welcome an influx of millions more visitors.

Istanbul New Airport is set to be a game changer. It will have the capacity for 150 million passengers annually, with room for expansion to accommodate 50 million more. This makes it the largest airport in the world, and its management are vying for the busiest airport in the world crown, too. 

It’s situated only 22 miles from Istanbul’s city centre and 120 countries are accessible within a three hour flight time. It’s set to be the new hub for Turkish Airlines, which currently flies to over 110 countries from Istanbul. 

The airport will also be home to Europe’s largest terminal hotel. Rooms will be available at the Yotel pod style hotel both land and airside, making it an attractive place for time-poor business travellers. 

Atasehir, Istanbul

The Atasehir Finance Centre

HOK, the global design, architecture, engineering and planning firm have created a masterplan for the build of a $2.6 billion financial centre on the Asian side of Istanbul. This 45 million square feet of office, residential, retail, conference and hotel space is touted to become a big player in the international business market.

The plan is for leading multinational companies to house their global HQs there. The build of the Istanbul International Financial Centre, currently underway, will include a new subway line and sustainable power and water supplies, along with highly sophisticated data protection and security. An urban park will surround this multi discipline site, making it an attractive all-round proposition for businesses looking to move out of more expensive cities. 

Istanbul property interior

Istanbul property prices still on the rise 

All this investment is having a positive knock on effect on Istanbul’s property market. New hotels, airports, restaurants and business centres need to be staffed. Young, talented, middle class Turkish job seekers are looking for a secure future. So they’re flocking to the city in search of the lucrative positions that are now needed to keep everything running smoothly. 

Four hundred thousand extra people were recorded as living in the city last year compared to the year before. The city is now home to 15 million, making it Turkey’s most inhabited by a long shot. Ankara is second with five million. 

The value of homes in Istanbul has soared. They’re now worth three times more than they were only seven years ago. The rest of Turkey has seen on average, a two-and-a-half-fold increase in property prices. However, there is still room to move for anyone wishing to buy property in Turkey's biggest city, with developing areas of the city providing opportunities for investors looking to get in at  ground level. And it's not all high rise apartments: on the outskirts, there are villas in Turkey's newest commuter towns, with excellent infrastructure allowing commuters to enjoy country-style living within easy reach of the city centre.

Turkish passport

Turkish citizenship on offer for even less

The news that Turkish passports are up for grabs with the purchase of a property valued at USD$250,000 is also a draw for business travellers. Now, it will be easier than ever before for entrepreneurs and smaller companies seeking to establish a base in Turkey without navigating red tape. 

Before this month, investors needed to spend $1m to bag a Turkish passport, but to attract funds to the country and stay in line with other countries offering citizenship-by-investment, the Turkish government has decided to lower its own threshold.


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