Turkey’s tourism industry likely to outshine pre-pandemic levels

 Tuesday, January 31, 2023 


Turkey’s weakened lira and improved ties with neighbors is all set to give the tourism industry a major boost which is expected to surpass pre-pandemic levels this year, The Media Line reported based on opinions of experts in the tourism field.

“It is full of tourists everywhere,” The Media Line quoted Sebnem Altin, a tour guide, as saying.

There has been at least a 20% increase in bookings in recent weeks despite currently being in the midst of the low season for the sector, Altin said. This gives her reason to believe that it is very likely tourism will surpass numbers from 2019, before the pandemic wreaked havoc on the industry.

She adds that her contacts in the hotel industry have told her they are getting near-full bookings for visits starting in the spring, when Turkey’s large southern coastline begins to be popular with beachgoers.

Hopes are high that tourism in the country will straighten out this year.

“If things remain calm, I have no doubt they will surpass the numbers of 2019,” Joseph Fischer, an international tourism and hospitality expert with a focus on Turkey and Israel, was quote by The Media Line as saying.

The country’s currency lost 44% of its value against the US dollar in 2021. This has made travel to Turkey far cheaper than its western competitors.

Turkey’s improved relation with its neighbors is also helping boost tourism numbers.

Altin says many of the visitors currently coming are from the Far East and there has specifically been a rise in tourists from Arabic-speaking countries who often visit Turkey for shopping.

Her sentiments are supported by Fischer. The country’s easily accessible halal meat and hotels that offer women-only swimming pool hours make it an attractive destination for many Arab Israelis, he added.

In July, Turkey and Israel signed an aviation agreement that allowed Israeli airlines to fly to Turkey for the first time since 2007 amid a thawing of ties between the two countries.

Fischer says that Israel’s close proximity to Turkey, with one-hour flights to popular beaches, has made the country a top choice for Israeli tourists.

Altin says visitors are still coming for cultural tourism, which focuses on travel throughout the country to visit historical cities and museums, which benefits all.

Turkey’s Culture and Tourism Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy stated in December that the government expected $46 billion in tourism revenue in 2023, Hurriyet Daily News reported.

“They eat in each and every city they go to, they go shopping in these cities,” she said of the tourists. “Anybody and everybody along their routes benefits from this tourism.”

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