Turkey’s tourism industry would not be what it is today without its stakeholders’ unbreakable commitment to pushing forward, even during challenging times. Tatiana Tsierkezou writes.
Over the years, Turkey has faced its fair share of obstacles and hurdles, but has always managed to tactfully land on its feet, becoming stronger and more driven than ever before.
The tourism sector has been identified as one of the core contributors to the country’s economy and is forever evolving to meet the changing needs and demands of travellers who flock to its shores to experience a culture so unique and a destination so fascinating.
Last year, Turkey recorded 39.5 million foreign visitors – a 21.84 per cent rise on the previous year. Because of these positive figures, the government has revised its 2023 targets to 70 million tourists and $70 billion in income, but this will mean that an intensified focus is needed on the development of the industry, as well as the marketing of the country and its infallible tourism portfolio.
General manager, Mandarin Oriental, Bodrum, Harun Dursun informed TTG that Turkey’s Minister of Culture and Tourism, Mehmet Nuri Ersoy, recently declared tourism as a key sector for the first time in the country’s history.
“It was decided that a much larger budget should be created for this sector, especially for the promotion of Turkish tourism abroad. Ersoy said [the government] will work on increasing the Ministry’s budget to promote Turkish tourism, with the UK and Germany being the main promotion points,” he declared.
Dursun also noted that Russian speaking countries, as well as Arab countries, will be the next targets for Turkey’s promotion as a tourism destination.
Meanwhile, director of sales, W Istanbul, Semih Hazar explained to TTG that Turkey is one of the richest countries in the world in terms of tourism potential. “For this reason, our government organises a lot of marketing and PR activities abroad, and has put in a great effort to show this potential.
“In addition to that, Turkish Airlines provides direct flights from Istanbul to many countries around the world, and in a way, serves as a tourism ambassador for the promotion of Turkey. We – and by ‘we’ I mean fellow hoteliers and tourism agents – constantly attend international trade fairs and events, and are therefore also contributing to supporting Turkey’s tourism industry,” Hazar added.
With regards to key markets, Hazar pin-pointed an increase in the number of visitors from America, Europe and the Middle East.
“I can say that the top three reasons for travel to Turkey include travelling for leisure, for business and for health,” he said.
Everybody knows that a positive thought process leads to positive results, and this truly is the case for Turkey’s tourism industry, with stakeholders enjoying the ripe, succulent fruits of their labour.
Mandarin Oriental, Bodrum has had a record-breaking season, according to Dursun. “We are preparing to bring the highly successful 2019 season to an end in a few weeks until we commence operations again in April 2020. Since the day our resort opened, our team has exhibited our vision of legendary service by combining it with Turkish hospitality to make Mandarin Oriental, Bodrum not only a point of attraction in Turkey but also of the world,” he told TTG.
Also expressing his contentment with W Istanbul’s performance this year was Hazar: “We had a successful year and even the winter months, which we expected to be quieter, were quite busy and went beyond our expectations. I think that the same trend will continue for the rest of the year and that we will close 2019 very successfully.
“We have quite high expectations for 2020 and have received a number of bookings and enquiries, especially for meetings and group stays. In addition to all these, the UEFA Champions League will take place in Istanbul in May and that will bring great vitality to our city and contribute to the promotion of our country,” he added.
Honing into a place that greatly differs from the traditional summer experience in Turkey, but is by no means less appealing, Mount Erciyes is broadening its appeal and is rapidly rising in popularity among international travellers.
Mount Erciyes, which is near the Turkish city of Kayseri, is home to Erciyes Ski Resort. Turkey’s first and only professional mountain management company, Kayseri Erciyes, manages the destination throughout the four seasons, taking charge of all the social, sporting and touristic activities in Erciyes Ski Center, while providing a safe, peaceful and enjoyable time for all visitors.
Speaking to TTG exclusively was chairman, Kayseri Erciyes, Dr. Murat Cahid Cıngı: “Erciyes now stands out as a very important winter destination.”
Shedding light on the history of the popular mountain resort, Cıngı explained that skiing activities started between the 1940s and 1950s, and in 2005, the Erciyes Master Plan was commissioned by Kayseri Metropolitan Municipality.
“Following five years of desk work, it started to serve with its new face. So far, about $220 million has been spent on Erciyes Ski Center, thus having become one of the largest and most developed winter tourism centres in Turkey,” he said.
Cıngı revealed that following the introduction of direct flights between Moscow, Warsaw and Kiev and Kayseri, Russian, Polish and Ukrainian guests have become regulars at the resort.
“Direct flights to Kayseri from these three countries will be doubled in 2019-2020 and we will host more foreign guests in Erciyes,” he said. “Following our successful operations in the Russian, Ukrainian and Polish markets, we contacted the leading tour operators and agencies in the USA, the UK, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic and Estonia, and hosted them. We are working hard to bring foreign guests from these countries to our city.”
The destination also expects to receive more support from all of Turkey’s relevant institutions, including the Ministry of Youth and Sports, the Ministry of Tourism, the Ministry of Development and the Ministry of Economy, for investments that will assist with the development of Kayseri and the region.
Turkey knows what it needs to do to reach its tourism goals and stakeholders are in strong support of its vision.