Foreign visitors to Turkey see double-digit growth

Tourists in Taksim

Turkey finished 2019 on a high note as the country registered a double-digit growth of foreign tourists. The Culture and Tourism Ministry confirmed that international visitors to Turkey grew last year by 14.31% to 42.9 million from January to November.

Where in Turkey did visitors choose to stay?

In the January to November period in 2019, Antalya the Mediterranean city remained Turkey’s tourism capital with 14.4 million tourists choosing to visit. The largest city by population Istanbul ranked as the second tourist draw welcoming 13.7 million foreign visitors. These two cities made up more than 65% of total foreign tourists choosing to visit Turkey.

Where are the visitors from?

Topping the list of countries visiting Turkey are Russians with an increase of 17.42%, which equates to 6.89 million. Germany came in second with an increase of 11.57% totalling 4.83 million tourists and the United Kingdom third with a rise of 13.3% equating to 2.5 million tourists.

In accordance with data published by the UNWTO, Turkey stood 6th in the world with regards to the total number of tourists and 15th in the world for tourism income. In Europe Turkey ranks 6th in terms of tourist revenue and 4th regarding the number of foreign tourists.

Double-digit growth in 2020

Industry experts are expecting the tourism performance this year to continue in years to come. The Chairman of the Turkish Hoteliers Sururi Corabatir said: “We foresee that this year 15% increase will continue next year.” Corabatir went on to say that they expect 2020 to see double-digit growth in the tourism sector across the whole country.

Corabatir confirmed that the top holiday place for foreign visitors is the Mediterranean resort of Antalya. He went on to add: “Antalya proceeded on its path by breaking records every week. There was a noteworthy increase in both the Aegean region and Istanbul. We also expect double-digit growth in Istanbul next year.” He also went on to comment about the increasing high demand for cultural tours, saying: “Cappadocia, Mardin, Diyarbakir, Pamukkale and the Black Sea region all have started to see a significant increase in demand.”

Cultural heritage in Turkey

South-eastern regions of Turkey attract both local and foreign visitors attracted to history. These are places where the cities are ancient and offer delights such as castles, historical bridges and mosques. The cities of Mardin and Diyarbakir are particularly popular with tourists as they offer cities with history stretching back for thousands of years. The Aegean province of Turkey offers the hugely famous UNESCO world heritage site of Pamukkale. Tourists visit from all areas of the globe to take in the white terraces and mineral-rich thermal water.

Increasing tourism in Turkey

Corabatir explained: “Tourism has entered a period of increase. We need to turn this into a good opportunity.” He went on to say that the only sector that has not been damaged by the trade wars and disruptive world developments is the tourism sector.

The Turkey Tourism Promotion and Development Agency has been established to develop and promote tourism. The agency has one aim, and this is to make sure Turkey welcomes more tourists and increased tourism revenues. Corabatir commented that because of the work of the agency Turkey is expected to enjoy “a good 2020.”

Thomas Cook in Turkey

Thomas Cook was one of the oldest travel agencies worldwide. September 2019 saw the tour operator collapse and cease trading. Having failed to secure a rescue deal the 178-year-old business had no option but to file for bankruptcy. These actions affected over half a million travellers as they were left stranded all over the world.

Corabatir confirmed that the collapse of Thomas Cook did not affect the British market in Turkey, which continued to increase and saw Turkey take a larger share of travellers during this time in comparison to other countries.

The Chairman of the Professional Hoteliers Association, Ulkay Atmaca confirmed that the tourist sector had a very successful year even though there were negative factors such as the Thomas Cook collapse.

All Markets see increases

Atmaca said: “We have had a very good year. Demand shows 2020 will start well. We had some concerns about the British market, however, the surge in the market continues. We foresee at least a 10% increase in all the markets for 2020. It looks like it will probably happen, current reservation flows are pretty good.”

Atmaca went on to say that tourists from 193 countries were welcomed in Antalya and that: “We expect a rise in Ukraine and the UK market this year. A target is to increase the number of incoming tourists by at least 10%. We foresee a figure of 17.5 million for Antalya and 57 million for the whole country.”


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