A force to be reckoned with, Turkey’s reputation as a top tourism destination is steadfast. Natalie Hami reports.
Standing at the crossroads of two continents, Turkey’s culture, cuisine and history reflects this incredible diversity and distinctness, enriching its appeal as a tourism destination and its ability to attract travellers from all corners of the globe. Its all-round appeal, coupled with the fall in the value of the Turkish Lira, has resulted in a tourism surge for the destination recently.
According to statistics released by Turkey’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism, from January to August 2018, the number of foreign visitors to the destination increased by 22.92 per cent compared to the same period last year. Meanwhile, in August of this year, the number of visitors rose by 15.56 per cent compared to the corresponding month in 2017.
Turkey will be further enhancing its tourism infrastructure with the launch of Istanbul New Airport, which is currently in its final stages. The airport is set to serve 90 million passengers upon completion of its first phase, and will also host around 100 leading retailers. Situated in the northern part of the city, the monumental project is expected to host over 100 airlines providing air links to more than 300 destinations.
Turkey has long been known for its impeccable hospitality, which it continues to cultivate, with the destination garnering interest from international heavyweights looking to invest in new properties.
Bolstering the destination’s luxury credentials was the recent opening of Sofa Hotel Istanbul, located in the city’s chic shopping district, Nisantasi, as well as the launch of The Bodrum EDITION, featuring 102 stunningly appointed guestrooms. In addition, Millennium Hotels and Resorts announced its latest project in Turkey, Grand Millennium Konya City – the first Grand Millennium property in the country.
Openings aside, TTG caught up with a number of travel and tourism stakeholders, who pride themselves on their top-quality services, to find out how they are keeping their products fresh and enticing.
Zooming into the buzzing capital city of Istanbul, founder, Blue Phoenix Travel, Ufuk Gokdeniz explained that the luxury DMC provides varying types of tours, however, in an effort to provide a better quality of service, over the next few months it will be focusing on upscale, experience-based tours.
“We will provide special programmes so that our guests can experience the local tastes, local beauties and our culture,” he said.
Meanwhile, sales and marketing director, Voyage Hotels, Cengiz Sayir told TTG: “Our customer satisfaction-orientated service approach will continue into 2019, as meeting the expectations of our guests is the first and most important principal in our missions.”
He explained that setting the bar higher in quality and service is a mission for the group, which will be unveiling a freshly-renovated hotel next year.
In terms of meeting guest expectations, Sayir further noted that the hotel chain aims to do so through its various concept hotels.
“Couples, seniors, families with children and golfers are more than welcome to have an amazing and unforgettable experience in Voyage Resorts.”
Reaping the benefits of a destination rich in history and culture, at Caresse, A Luxury Collection Resort and Spa, Bodrum, guests can expect to be taken on a ‘transformative journey’ which will ‘touch their spirits and enrich their lives’, according to the property’s general manager, Makis Antonatos.
“We will continue to provide high-end services with local touches,” he added.
Turkey’s tourism stakeholders are reaping the benefits of the destination’s strategic location between two continents by reaching out to feeder markets far and wide.
According to general manager, Harun Dursun, Mandarin Oriental, Bodrum, the luxury property has had a strong market mix this year, with around 25 per cent of its guests being locals. However, the remaining 75 per cent hailed from key markets such as the US, the UK, the Middle East and the GCC in particular, as well as Germany, Russia and the CIS.
Referring specifically to the MENA market, Dursun told TTG: “The Middle East has traditionally been a mature source market for Bodrum, and Mandarin Oriental, Bodrum has developed its presence in this market further since its opening in summer 2014.”
He added: “With the Middle East being one of our top five source markets, we have increased the number of Arabic speaking colleagues on property, which we aim to further boost for the 2019 season.”
Links between the Middle East and Turkey have also been improved by the destination’s flag carrier, Turkish Airlines. The airline recently introduced three flights per week from Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen to Doha, while Istanbul to Beirut flights have been increased to 28 per week.
Dursun further noted that beyond the unique MENA market, Mandarin Oriental, Bodrum will also be turning its attention to emerging markets such as Asia and Latin America. “We would of course like to maintain our success in welcoming guests from the Middle East, while at the same time enhancing our performance with emerging markets for Bodrum, such as Asia and Latin America,” he said.
Caresse, A Luxury Collection Resort and Spa, Bodrum’s Antonatos echoed a similar sentiment, noting that the upscale property’s main markets are currently the CIS, Europe, North America and the Middle East. However, wishing to reach out to international travellers even further, the hotel will be focusing on the Asian and South American markets.
“We plan on using our communication channels to meet with our third parties in Europe, the CIS, the US and MENA markets to reach our target audience. This is our main strategy for 2019,” Antonatos explained to TTG.
Meanwhile, luxury DMC Blue Phoenix Travel will be catering to a number of global markets, including Europe, Latin America, the US, Australia and New Zealand, according to Gokdeniz.
Armed with unrivalled charm, Turkey remains true to its tourism industry and continues to lure visitors to its shores in increasing numbers.