Standing on its own two feet once more, wondrous Turkey is back in the race to claim its spot amongst the world’s top tourism destinations. Aleksandra Wood discovers.
The Republic of Turkey has had an eventful year to say the least, fuelled by exciting news and inevitable changes. Over the last few years, the destination has come face to face with a number of challenges, but with the utmost agility and prowess, it has expertly weaved through every obstacle, reaffirming its position among the top touristic destinations for travellers the world over.
Its cultural beauty and spectacular sites disallow travellers to remain impartial to the scope of Turkey’s offering. And thus, with industry expertise and awe-inspiring natural assets in tow, the future looks promising for this country’s tourism industry.
As the seas find a new calm and the ebb and flow of tourism assumes its original rhythm, the question of how to proceed from here remains. One cannot move forward without acknowledging past findings, which is exactly why recent reports on visitor arrival numbers, released by the Republic of Turkey’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism and the Turkish Statistical Institute, are pivotal to comprehending the industry’s current position.
According to provisional data presented by the reports, the total number of arriving visitors to Turkey reached 37,969,284 in 2017, indicating a notable increase of 22.85 per cent in comparison to the 30,906,680 in 2016. Specifically, international visitors accounted for 32,410,034 of the total number of visitors for 2017, thereby demonstrating a 27.84 per cent jump on international arrivals during 2016. The third quarter of 2017 proved most fruitful, bringing 15,843,744 visitors in total to the destination.
Meanwhile, the Russian Federation emerged as the top source market for Turkey throughout 2017, making up some 14.55 per cent of the total number of visitors, followed by Germany with 11.06 per cent; Iran with 7.72 per cent; Georgia with 7.52 per cent; and Bulgaria with 5.72 per cent.
“Turkey’s 2017 tourism total turnover, both in volumes and number of visitors, increased significantly compared to the previous year,” vice president Turkey, Mytha Hotel Anthology, Alexander Regelmann told TTG. “The biggest challenge was to attract highend guests back to Turkey from relevant feeder markets such as the UK and CIS. It seems that both these nationalities are ready to enjoy the beauties of Turkey again. The combined efforts of the industry made great progress to bring the tourists back.”
In a similar sentiment, general manager, Caresse, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa, Bodrum, Makis Antonatos said: “We have seen a positive increase in terms of Bodrum as a destination in the year 2017, and we remain highly optimistic for 2018.
“As a top luxury property in Bodrum, we have continued to keep strong relations with local travel markets and have made great progress with foreign travel markets,” he added.
Antonatos explained that the establishment’s sales and marketing strategies are focusing on social media campaigning, as well as extending invitations to foreign travel experts to experience its incomparable offering.
With 2017’s tourism figures having brought forth a significant boost, Turkey is ever-ready to embrace new and emerging markets, with hospitality players keen on discovering exactly what it is that such markets require. As aptly put by founder and director, Blue Phoenix Travel, Ufuk Gökdeniz: “The great challenge is that each of the nationalities have specific travel habits, and adjusting services to new countries can be exigent.”
Meanwhile, chief operating officer, Avantgarde Collection, Tanay Adıgüzel elaborated on the progressive market emergences: “New markets such as India, the Far East and CIS countries will come into focus, as well as EMEA, this year. “We are working on these destinations and are planning to coordinate 2018 promotion, marketing and sales events accordingly,” he added.
Caresse, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa, Bodrum is also shifting its focus to new markets on the rise, as confirmed by Antonatos: “In previous years, the majority of our focus has been on North American and European markets. Our goal for 2018 is to accommodate the requests and preferences of travel markets in Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Lebanon, Kuwait and Qatar.”
LUXURY ON DEMAND
In view of Turkey’s currently expanding markets, various sectors of the industry are finding new light and spreading their wings to take on the latest trends. One such sector, the luxury travel sector, is eagerly calling on Turkish hospitality players to accommodate the ever-present and prodigious upscale traveller, as the high-end travel industry grows nearly two times faster than the average travel industry.
“Our sophisticated guests are not only looking for five-star accommodation units, but also to enhance their lifestyle and transform themselves through wellness, art and food,” Mytha Hotel Anthology’s Regelmann told TTG. “They seek a different place from home; they want to feel like locals. They are not searching for an individualistic retreat, but more of an experience to be shared with their loved ones. Bespoke travel agencies and concierge services catering to sophisticated international travellers, who are looking for ‘money can’t buy experiences’ are in high demand.”
Also stressing the importance of the advancement of the luxury sector was Avantegarde Collection’s Adıgüzel: “It is more about the development in the boutique and luxury segment. Instead of reasonable tourism destinations, the emergence of different markets that will meet different needs and services is vital. Luxury concierge service must be provided in addition to accommodation.”
Having all this in mind, hospitality players are taking it upon themselves to discover new trends and set new targets this year. Avantgarde Collection is significantly investing in its internal services in 2018, such as catering and weddings. The brand, which operates hotels in exclusive locations in Istanbul and Bodrum, will cooperate with Soluto, a company providing services in integrated building management fields such as residences, hotels and shopping malls, for new projects.
In addition to this, Avantgarde Collection has announced collaborations with Assembly, a creator of progressive business environments with luxury and unique spaces, as well as Educhos, which offers education and training services in catering, franchising and hotel management businesses. ‘Team work makes the dream work’ is a phrase well suited to the brand’s strategies, as suggested by Adıgüzel: “We are open to such supplementary startup ideas that complement and support each other. We ourselves pursue these kinds of collaborations and are constantly in search of ways to contribute to the industry. The common principle of the right issue, the right executive, the right partner and the right value-added investor partner is our essential criteria. Thus, we deal with the entire process of hospitality.”
I-NICHE-IATING MARKET ENHANCEMENTS
In the pursuit of discovering the demands and requirements of each type of traveller, hospitality entities in Turkey are at liberty to venture into various niche markets.
Caresse, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa, Bodrum is opening new doors, as Antonatos revealed: “At the beginning of 2018, we started to notice a significant interest in destination themed weddings with a ‘wedding weekend’ concept. This concept has led us to create tailor-made wedding packages to extend celebrations throughout a three- to five-day period.”
Similarly, the Mytha Hotel Anthology brand is expecting some fantastic launches in 2018, such as the opening of the world-renowned beach restaurant, La Guérite, at its D Maris Bay, Datça Peninsula property, as well as the relaunch of the hotel’s ‘Nusret’ and ‘Ruya’ restaurants. Additionally, its luxurious argos in Cappadocia Hotel has introduced The Museum Lounge, a concept that serves as an impressive space for special gatherings and cultural activities.
Looking ahead, the country’s tourism industry shows no signs of slowing down as it picks up on the momentum of a successful 2017, ready to tackle any unforeseen challenges. Turkey refuses to be left out, with entities reinforcing their presence at numerous international travel events.
“We attended many important events and fairs [last year], both at home and abroad, such as WTM London; ILTM Cannes; Helexpo in Thessaloniki; Middle East fairs; and LTM Almaty and Kiev,” Avantgarde Collection’s Adıgüzel told TTG. “We are going to attend the same events [this year] – one of which is LTM Moscow – and some local fairs, where we aim to make new collaborations, deals and projects, besides improving our current business relations and cooperation.”
And not only this; a plethora of mega-events are scheduled to take place in Turkey that are sure to entice guests this year, including the Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey; Turkish Airlines Open Golf Tournament; Bosphorus Cross Continental Swimming Race; TEB BNP Paribas Istanbul Cup; Istanbul Marathon; and Cappadocia Ultra Trail, among others.
When drawing a conclusion, one can reflect on the veracious words of Mytha Hotel Anthology’s Regelmann: “Prospects seem bright, with occupancy rates and prices expected to reach a better balance. If the geopolitical situation remains stable, each of us – hoteliers, restaurateurs and cultural facilitators – will then contribute our part in offering the best to travellers, and they will once again be ready to look for that sense of wonder they can find in Turkey.