Tourists in Türkiye jump nearly 30% as arrivals maintain robust pace

 Saturday, May 27, 2023 


The number of foreigners arriving in Türkiye in the year through April has jumped by almost a third compared to a year ago, according to official data Friday that highlighted continued momentum within the industry serving as a vital source of income for the economy.

Foreign arrivals reached over 9.53 million in the first four months, the Culture and Tourism Ministry data showed, marking a 27.5% year-over-year increase.

Tourism revenue is critical to Türkiye as President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his government focus on reducing the current account deficit to tackle high inflation.

Last year’s complete rebound from the pandemic fallout saw the number of tourists near a record, generating all-time high revenues and prompting the government to raise its annual tourism estimates.

Arrivals in January through April have been driven by a rocketing flow from Russia, alongside a strong demand from Europe, led by Germany and the United Kingdom.

Over 1.15 million Russians arrived marking an almost 135% year-over-year increase compared to a year ago.

The Ukraine war fallout drove a surge of Russian arrivals, partly due to flight restrictions imposed by Western nations on Russia. Hundreds of thousands of Russians are also estimated to have moved last year to Türkiye, a haven for investment in homes and other assets.

Germany followed with 966,336 tourists, an 18.74% increase versus a year ago. Bulgaria ranked third with 797,956 arrivals, a 17.45% annual jump, the data showed. Iran and the U.K. ranked fourth and fifth.

Istanbul, Türkiye’s largest city by population and a top tourist draw welcomed over half of all foreign visitors, or nearly 4.77 million, in the four-month period.

It was followed by the Mediterranean resort city of Antalya with 1.6 million foreign tourists and Edirne in northwestern Türkiye, which borders both Bulgaria and Greece, with 1.1 million foreign visitors.

In April alone, 3.3 million foreigners visited the country, up over 29% yearly, exceeding the pre-pandemic figures.

Some 3.29 million arrived in April 2019, according to the data.

The government has said foreign arrivals are expected to reach 60 million in 2023 before hitting 90 million in 2028. For the income, it sees it rising to $56 billion this year and $100 billion five years from now.

Foreign visitors surged 80.33% year-over-year to 44.6 million in 2022, just shy of the peak of 45.1 million in 2019. The figure is compared to the 24.71 million arrivals in 2021 and 12.73 million in 2020.

Revenues climbed 53.4% from a year earlier to a record high of nearly $46.3 billion, as lingering pandemic effects dissipated and the Ukraine war fallout drove a surge of Russian arrivals, partly due to flight restrictions imposed by Western nations on Russia.

Last year’s income blew past the previous high of $38.4 billion in 2019 before the pandemic hit. The figure stood at $30.2 billion in 2021 after the outbreak more than halved it to just $14.8 billion in 2020.

Tourism contributes about 10% to Türkiye’s gross domestic product (GDP). In addition, around 1.7 million people worked in accommodation and food services in 2022 – about 5% of total employment.

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