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Record tourists head to Turkey despite border conflict

Holiday-makers are still heading to Turkey in droves, despite turmoil on the borders as ISIS fighters advance across Syria.

Forty-two million tourists are expected to visit by the end of the year, pushing tourism revenues up to $35 billion. That’s a six per cent increase on last year’s numbers (Turkey tourism revenue in 2013 amounted to $32.3 billion).

President of the Association of Turkish Travel Agencies Basaran Ulusoy claims that a changing perception of Turkey has contributed to the increase, as well as stanch any ill effects from 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 secure country,” he said. 
Tourism in Turkey
 

Number crunching

July saw 5.2 million tourists visiting the country, an increase of 13.52 per cent on the same month in 2013. Between January and July the number of tourists reached 20.5 million, an increase of 6.8 per cent.

Comparatively, in 2000 there were just 10 million tourists.

There was a significant increase in the numbers of tourists coming from Iraq, Iran, Greece, Russia, Bulgaria and the UK.
 

How Turkey took the world stage

Clever marketing has ensured Turkey has become a strong worldwide brand, marketing its landmarks from the Aegean and the Mediterranean to the Black Sea. A subtle shift away from the traditional draw of sun, sea and sand has seen Turkey push itself forward as a destination for healthcare, culture, large conferences and events and even sports.

Yachting has had a lot of investment, and sailors are now heading to Turkey to traverse the huge coastline, exploring the islands and coves, visiting its 17 yacht harbours and utilising some of the best marinas in the world. Cruise lines are also increasingly visiting the country’s Aegean and Mediterranean ports.

Istanbul has capitalised on its cultural, historical and retail assets, drawing 32 per cent of the country’s visitors, slightly topping Antalya whose beaches and sunshine attract 31 per cent of visitors.
Sailing in Turkey
 

Turks get on board

However, it’s not just foreign tourists who are realising the value of Turkey. As the country’s middle class grows, more and more Turks are taking holidays - catching onto the Western concept of a holiday as a necessity, not a luxury. Last year 13 million Turks travelled, and of those, eight million went abroad. The government is aiming to have 35 million Turks holidaying within the country by 2023.

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