Arab tourist numbers rise as Western tourists decline
The number of Arab and Iranian tourists visiting Istanbul has increased - while Westerners are on the decline, according to a recent report.
The report, by an Istanbul tourism body, shows foreign visitor numbers have increased by seven percent year-on-year in the January to May period. The report also demonstrates the dynamics of Istanbul tourism are changing.
The 10 countries that send the most visitors to Turkey’s largest city are Germany, Iran, Russia, the UK, France, the US, Italy, the Netherlands, Ukraine and Iraq.
However, the report shows that the number of German tourists decreased from 10.3 to 9.9 percent compared to the same period last year, while Russians dropped from 5.8 percent to 4.5 percent. French tourist numbers also fell by .4 percent, and Italians by a similar figure. US tourist numbers stayed stable, at 4.1 percent.
Meanwhile, the numbers of Middle Eastern tourists have been rising. Iranian visitor numbers grew from 4.4 percent to 5.5 percent, and Iraqis grew from 2.1 percent to 2.4. Saudi visitors grew from 2.2 percent to 3 percent, and Syrian tourists increased from 1.9 percent to 2.1 percent.
Some tourism operators are concerned about the change - mostly because Arab tourists tend to rent private apartments rather than use hotels. For the Istanbul luxury property sector, however, the phenomenon is a welcome one, with the market responding to the increased need for high-end apartments with rising prices.
Turkish Airlines ranked fourth globally
Turkish Airlines has been the world’s fourth best airline. At the Skytrax World Airline Awards on Tuesday, held in Paris, Turkey’s national flight carrier came in fourth in terms of food quality, seat comfort, in-flight entertainment, cost and value and cabin crew friendliness.
Qatar Airways topped the list for the third year running, followed by Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific.
In 2011, Turkish Airlines also received awards from Skytrax for best premium economy seats, and the best airline in Southern Europe.
Turkey’s future as transfer hub of Europe sealed with Russian loan
Russia’s biggest lender, Sberbank, has put down 500 million euros for the construction of Istanbul’s third airport.
Investment into the project is expected to reach 6 billion Euros.
The deal seals Istanbul’s future as Europe’s chief transport hub. The airport will be the largest airport in the world, with a capacity of 150 million passengers once its fully operational.
Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport, the largest in the country, has run out of capacity as Turkish Airlines flights increase, with new routes being added each month.
Chinese tour operators demand Antalya Buddhist temple
Antalya’s deputy governor has turned down a request to have a Buddhist temple built in the city.
A 15-person delegation of tour operators from China visited Deputy Governor Recep Yuksel on Wednesday and made the request for a temple to serve the 200,000 or so Chinese visitors who come to the region each year.
Yuksel politely declined. “Us building one ourselves wouldn’t be very realistic,” the deputy governor said. “But if there are Buddhists who live here and they request a place of worship, we could allow them to build their own. Otherwise we won’t build one when there is no such demand with the hope it would attract people. That wouldn’t be very sincere. Someone needs to formally request it and follow up on it.”
Turkey adds to its “Blue Flag” beaches
Turkey now has the second-largest number of “Blue Flag” beaches in the world, following a number of additions this year.
“Blue Flag” is an international eco-label awarded by the Foundation for Environmental Education to beaches and marinas that meet high standards of water quality, environmental education, information and management.
Turkey now has 436 Blue Flag beaches, a rise of 39 since last year. Antalya has the most Blue Flag beaches with 200.
The Blue Flag award was born in France in 1985, and was rolled out across Europe in 1987.
Travel and tourism make up 12pc of Turkey’s GDP
Travel and tourism sectors generated US$96 last year - making up 12 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product, more than any other sector other than retail and agriculture.
A World Travel and Tourism Council report stated that the 12 percent figure is higher than the global average of 9.8 percent, and nearly twice the size of the banking sector’s 6.4 percent contribution.
The report compared the travel and tourism sectors to eight others that are considered to have similar significance, including automotive, chemicals, banking, mining, finance, retail and agriculture.
The amount of GDP generated from travel and tourism has expanded by 256 percent in Turkey between 1990 and 2014, while the total economy increased by 110 over the same period. Tourism was responsible for sustaining 2.1 jobs in Turkey last year, employing more people than most other sectors.
Tourism in Turkey is expected to increase this year’s tourism revenue this year, earning over $35 billion by hosting more than 42 million tourists, despite Europe’s economic problems.
Last year Turkey's tourism numbers reached an all-time high of 37 million.
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