Tourists arrivals in Istanbul are at an all-time high

Istanbul Mosque

5.42 million tourists visited the largest city in Turkey, Istanbul in the first five months (January – May) 2019 which was an increase of 11% compared to the same time last year, and an all-time high in the past five years. Istanbul has made huge progress towards a goal of welcoming 15 million tourists this year.

Where are the tourists from?

By country, Germany ranked first with a total of 394,925 visitors. Iran was second with 337,428 visitors and Russia third with 290,985 visitors to Istanbul. Ali Yerlikaya, the Governor of Istanbul stated that Istanbul ranks number ten in the world and third in Europe in terms of visitor numbers. As it is easy to reach many parts of the world in just a few hours on a plane from the new Istanbul Airport, it has strengthened the position as a regional hub.

The report also showed that there are 581 accommodation choices such as apart-hotels, hostels and hotels in Istanbul, which offer 8,732 rooms with a bed capacity of 117,000. Istanbul boasts 104 5-star, 128 4-star and 131 3-star hotels, so foreign visitors have plenty to choose from.

Yerlikaya stated that: “We are number one in the world with our hotels, bed capacity, accommodation and service quality. Our price policies are quite competitive as well. All these make our Istanbul unique in all kinds of tourism.” The governor also confirmed that they are working with all stakeholders to make all targets happen. Currently 42 out of every 100 people that visit Turkey arrive into Istanbul.

Arrivals in Istanbul in 2019

According to official data, in the first five months this year the total number of foreign visitors stood at 12.8 million, which is up by 1.3 million when compared to the same period last year. Out of these visitors 5.5 million were welcomed by Istanbul. The Istanbul Provincial Directorate of Culture and Tourism displayed data to back up the figures and show the astounding 11% increase of foreign visitors this year.

Over one million tourists visited Istanbul in May 2019, which was an increase of 3.3% from May 2018. When compared to April of this year it showed a small reduction, as in April there was a massive 16.2% increase of foreign tourists. March also showed an increase of 8.6% tourists visiting the city.

The Istanbul Governor’s Office issued a statement confirming that: “Istanbul is on course to meet its target of hosting 15 million tourists set for 2019.”

Local tourism reports in Istanbul

The local tourism report authority stated that 5.42 million tourists have visited Istanbul and that this is the best figure for the past 5 years during the January to May period. There were 4.6 million tourists in the period from January to May 2015. 2016 and 2017 figures stood at 3.7 million and 3.6 million visitors respectively.

Modes of transport to Istanbul

The majority of visitors travelled by plane whilst the minority of visitors, some 16,000 choose to travel by cruise ship. Approximately 30% of those who travelled by plane arrived into the new Istanbul Airport, which was only opened early this April.


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