Turkish tourist industry fights back


Visitor numbers to Turkey have fallen this year, but tourist operators and municipalities are fighting back. Read about some of the initiatives designed to boost visitor numbers in Turkey.

Airbus goes under to promote tourism

Residents and visitors to Kusadasi were treated to an astonishing sight last week when an Airbus was sunk off the Aegean coast.

The Airbus A300 will attract flora and fauna, turning it into a reef which will attract diving tourists to the area. Worth £64,000, the jet was broken up in Istanbul in April before being sent the Aegean. At 177 feet long with a 144-foot wingspan, the plane is believed to the be the largest ever to be used as an artificial reef. Turkey has sunk other smaller planes before, with three sunk off Antalya since 2009.

Nine new museums for Antalya

The southern Mediterranean city of Antalya is to receive nine more museums, strengthening its position as a centre of tourism and culture. Among the new museums set to open in the city we’ll see include:

The Natural History Museum: This will house exhibits showcasing a wide array of Turkish plants and animals, along with an entertainment centre.

Yoruk Museum: this will be built in Manavgat, and will inform visitors about Antalya’s nomadic history and culture.

Turkish and Islamic Civilization Museum: This will be inside the Antalya Grand Mosque Social Complex, with including artwork and artifacts from Turkish and islamic culture and history. Workshops will be held in the 3000 square metre venue.

Cinema Museum: Antalya’s aiming to market itself as a international cinematic hub on the back of the increasingly famous International Antalya Film Festival. The museum will showcase the history of Turkish film.

Antalya Museum will also be getting an overhaul.

Antalya’s cultural cachet is on the rise. As the host of EXPO 2016, the city has attracted visitors from all over the world, and this year expects to host around eight million visitors. This is part of an attempt over the last few years to market the region as a year-round destination.    

The birth of Antalyawood

Antalya also has high hopes for a future as an international film centre.

Producers and investors are increasingly heading to the Mediterranean city in search of somewhere cheaper than Los Angeles - but with similar mountain, sea, river and sunshine qualities.

Talks in Hollywood have taken place, with the mayor of Antalya, Mendres Turel, declaring them a success. 

Serdar Ali Abet, star of Big House           

Antalya-based soap opera set to attract Arab tourists

An Antalya businessman is hoping to cash in on the runaway success of Turkish soap operas.

Serdar Ali Abet, who owns a travel agency, has become the unlikely star of Big House, a new Antalya-based soap opera. Abet came up with the idea after discovering the popularity of Turkish soap operas around the Middle East. He backed the Turkish-Arab project himself, and now stars in the show.

The $3 million, 30-episode  show began airing last week, with the intention of capitalising on the month of Ramadan.

A drop in Russian tourists and fear following a series of attacks saw Antalya’s hotel bookings drop this year.

As a tourism executive, Abet began to think how he could boost the sector, he told Reuters. He was inspired by the Turkish soap opera Noor, which was a huge hit in the Arab world, attracting 85 million viewers for its final episode. Abet found many of his Arab customers were booking trips to Turkey off the back of Noor, to visit the many Istanbul sites they’d seen on the show.

When he heard Saudi comedian Hassan Assiri was looking to produce a soap opera in Turkey, he got in touch and suggested Antalya, pointing out the number of incredible resorts on the coastline.

“When I suggested they shoot the series in Antalya they weren't so enthusiastic. But then I took them to see the city, which is luxurious. And Arabs love luxury.”

Abet took on the logistical support for shooting the show, including picking up the cost of rental cars, food and accommodation. In return, the businessman was given the lead role.

The main set for Big House is the sumptuous villa at the Regnum Carya Hotel where Erdogan stayed during last year’s G-20 summit. The villa will also play host to tourists.

In the series, the businessman-turned-actor plays a Turkish billionaire searching for a heir to whom he’ll gift his inheritance.

“Actors sometimes go into business after they make money. But I've never heard of a businessman becoming an actor,” Abet said. “I did it for the sake of tourism.”

Madame Tussauds heading to Istanbul

Turkey’s first Madame Tussauds wax museum is set to open in busy Istiklal Street, featuring 60 local and international personalities from the world of politics, sports and culture.

Visitors to the iconic museum will be able to get up close and personal with wax figures of Ataturk, Steve Jobs and Rumi, the 13th century philosopher.

Oludeniz Beach

Eid extension to bolster tourism

Turkish authorities have declared this year’s Eid will be a bumper edition, with the three-day holiday extending to nine days.

Eid, which takes place at the beginning of July,  is traditionally a tourism boom time. Extending the holiday means more chance for local tourists to go away - and spend money.

Eid starts on July 2 this year, and Prime Minister Binali Yildirim signed a circular declaring that July 4 and July 8 would also be public holidays, creating a nine-day public holiday.

Hoteliers are hoping the extended vacation will boost their occupancy rates, earning around 500 million Turkish Liras over the nine days.

Last year, the four-day Eid period generated 250 million liras from 180,000 holidaymakers. The most popular destinations were Izmir, Antalya and Ankara.


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