Cemil Hakan Kilic, General Manager, Istanbul Convention & Visitors Bureau, speaks exclusively with Travel And Tour World at the 6th edition of ACE of M.I.C.E 2019, at the Istanbul Congress Centre.
Travel And Tour World – How has the show been so far?
Cemil Hakan Kilic: It’s been great so far — lot of meetings, B2B on an average of 50 a day. It is picking up really good. And this year the atmosphere is lot better. You can sense the feeling in the air — visitors – the excitement in their eyes — hopefully it is going to be a good event.
Travel And Tour World: What has made Turkey the main centre for global tourism?
Cemil Hakan Kilic: Number one, it’s a destination that attracts lot of people because of its uniqueness. It is different. To give you an example, if you ask a person from Paris or London, there is not going to be much change in culture, place and everything. All the surroundings would be similar. But for a person in Istanbul, it’s a whole different world, a whole different culture, religion, anything that you can name of. It makes the city very exciting. You don’t need an advertisement. It attracts people, draws attention… in its uniqueness. It is very price competitive, still, in Europe. And you have a great hub – in city of Istanbul you have flights… almost over 200 cities around the globe, where you can have direct flight and that makes life easier for people to move into the city and outside the city. So, all these facts make it a very hub point for tourism.
Travel And Tour World: Which organisers are you working with currently?
Cemil Hakan Kilic: We work with lot of organisers in the country and overseas. We have a hub point. Anytime they have a request, they go to a system and as per their requisitions we answer them as much as possible. All the facilities we have… with governors, municipalities, all those representatives from the city we provide them the most we can for them to have their Congresses in Istanbul.
Travel And Tour World – There is a huge surge in wedding tourism in Turkey. How is it poised to attract couples?
Cemil Hakan Kilic: First of all, it is a very nice occasion. It makes people happy. Everybody is happy at the weddings. We want to put that mark on your calendars – the day of wedding – if it will be held in city as Istanbul it would be loved for ever for the wedded people. It attracts lot of attention for the organisers in this country to help those weddings to take place in Istanbul. And every day they are picking up so fast, they are providing lot of information and stuff and know how, so to speak, from the globe. It will be lot better in the coming years.
Travel And Tour World – Turkey earns 20 % of its tourism revenues from MICE industry. Can you tell us how much it contributes to the economy and what is the average daily spending by an event tourist?
Cemil Hakan Kilic: 20 per cent of overall tourism come from MICE industry. People who visit through MICE are a lot high scale people. In average, in Turkey they are spending 500-600 dollars per person that goes up to 2500-2600 dollars per person. So, we get lot better return from the MICE industry compared to average tourism.
Travel And Tour World – There was a huge surge in wellness tourism as well. Can you tell me more about it? It grew by almost 23 per cent.
Cemil Hakan Kilic: It is government’s plan for the next years. Our minister just announced that our aim is going to be 70 million tourists. So that is the aim. That is a stature higher than now which is 42-43 million. And that is very high stake to reach in the short run but we will do our best to reach that number. It will generate lot of financial insights for the economy.
Travel And Tour World – Can you tell us about the current trends in the meetings’ industry and how are you maintaining sustainability?
Cemil Hakan Kilic: Meetings’ industry has become lot more logical than it used to be. People are looking to different versions or aspects of the meetings. Sometimes they have mobile meetings but overall you are going to have this huge touch and that’s where you have people all gather together in one place in the nice part of the city and they can have interactions with the society. Technology is the number one change in the MICE technology.
Tourism in my opinion – is very susceptible to the environment – weather goes back, or if there is an earthquake, terrorist attack or something, that affects the number of people who are trying to visit the country. It is not the manufacturing of something. In tourism people are very keen on safety and other issues. And sustainability – as much as we try our best to sustain it in the long run, there could always be spokes in the wheel.
Travel And Tour World – How is ACE of M.I.C.E bridging the gap in connecting the global travel and how is it promoting the travel trade industry?
Cemil Hakan Kilic: Global travellers as the world became a huge city – people move around a lot easier than they used to; and they are very keen to see other places and cultures. So that makes it very easy for MICE industry to move all these people. Plus we have direct flights from all over the country, all over the world. And it makes it very easy for us to get in touch with them and get them over here.