Turkey eyes global tourism success

12 Dec 2018

By Danielle Curtis, Exhibition Director – Middle East, Arabian Travel Market & IBTM Arabia

Straddled between two continents, Turkey is perfectly located for travellers and offers an enthralling array of art, culture and cuisine that will delight even the most seasoned delegates. The country’s stated goal is to become one of the major global tourism markets by 2023 and despite a slowdown in 2016, figures for the third quarter of 2017 show it’s well on track to achieving this, with a rebound of almost 40% year-on-year. The country’s tourism industry is recovering, with a strong focus on the MICE sector and, without a doubt, there’s a long list of compelling reasons to choose Turkey for your next business event.

The bounce back is clear evidence that travellers have renewed confidence in Turkey following the implementation of successful security initiatives and political stability. This government action is supported by copious competitive advantage, market strengths and vehement determination to deliver excellence.

From raising visitor numbers, Turkey’s tourism sector is forecast to see revenues grow to $30 billion in 2018. In an aim to raise numbers further, the government’s initiative offers incentives to tour operators and up to 38 million are expected to visit the country this year. This is a position of strength the Turkish government is keen to expand on in its 2023 Turkish Tourism Strategy, along with the incentives, it has eliminated much of the red tape and bureaucracy that previously hindered the success of travel businesses.

Additionally, the country’s tourism centres - Istanbul and Antalya - have received billions of dollars in investment, with an overhaul of their infrastructure and transport networks in preparation for increased visitors. Major airports - Dalman, Bodrum and Antalya - have received private funding for modernisations and upgrades. Getting between the many attractions of these cities is now quicker and easier than ever before.

Turkey’s advantageous geographic location as a natural bridge between Europe and the Middle East, makes the country, and especially its capital Istanbul, an excellent choice for international conventions, conferences and exhibitions. It’s a central meeting point for international conference delegates, coming from Asia and Europe and with an 8,500-year history, the culture is inherently global, incorporating a blend of both Western and Eastern themes.

The Turkish economy flows from Istanbul and this historic trade route and area of industrial importance is recognised for its well-equipped business-friendly facilities. Istanbul placed 23rd in the 2017 ICCA rankings, based on the number of international association meetings hosted there.

The capital is also an important academic centre, boasting more than 50 public and private universities, over 70 museums and a wealth of state-of-the-art MICE venues. There are seven convention centres and three exhibition centres in Istanbul; it can host all types of events from small expos to massive association meetings. By far the largest venue is CNR EXPO, which has eight exhibition halls totalling more than 149,000sqm of space.

After business hours, the buzzing Beyoğlu district, is a favourite for exploration. With an abundance of restaurants, museums and bars, there’s no shortage of ways to entertain delegates and it’s a great place to create amazing hospitality experiences.

As a global tourism magnet, getting to Turkey has always been easy with plentiful connections from worldwide destinations. And this just became easier. The new Istanbul International Airport - opened in 2018 - has added even more capacity, the airport offers flights between 350 destinations and can handle 150 million passengers per year.  A telling indicator of Turkey’s tourism ambitions is the intention for the airport to become one of the world’s busiest aviation hubs. When fully operational it will serve 3,000 flights daily and is expected to be the largest airport in the world.

Turkey has its sights set on welcoming 50 million tourists to the country every year by 2023. Its traditional markets are Europe and especially Russia. These remain vitally important, but it’s now looking further afield. To achieve its ambitious targets, a core aspect of the county’s tourism strategy is to capitalise on the opportunities afforded by its excellent location and cutting-edge venue facilities, by targeting business and leisure travellers from Asia, specifically China, India, Japan, Korea, Indonesia and Malaysia.

Success in these markets is key, and it will certainly see Turkey make its mark on the world travel scene. Get in early and you will witness this fascinating country’s evolution from regional tourism favourite into a truly global tourism destination, and a leading choice for international business events.

IBTM Arabia 2019, part of IBTM’s global portfolio of meetings and events industry trade shows and the most established event of its kind in the MENA MICE industry, will take place at Jumeirah Etihad Towers from 25-27 March and will bring together exhibitors from Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Turkey, Russia, central Asia, Georgia, Armenia and Cyprus, as well as the UAE and GCC, for three days of mutually-matched meetings, exciting cultural activities, networking events and inspiring educational sessions.

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