Number of foreign tourists visiting Istanbul plunges for first time in 16 years
ANTALYA/ISTANBULThe number of foreign tourists visiting Istanbul declined to 9.2 million in 2016, a 26 percent decrease compared to the previous year, data from the Istanbul Culture and Tourism Directorate has shown.
This was the first year-on-year decrease in the number of foreign arrivals to Istanbul since 2000, amid escalating security concerns.
The highest monthly plunge was seen in June, as the number of foreign arrivals saw a 35.2 percent decline compared to the same month of 2015.
While 4.45 million foreigners visited Istanbul, the country’s top tourism destination, in the first half of the year, this figure rose to 4.76 million in the second half, according to the official report, which compiled the arrivals data from the two airports in the city as well as the Haydapaşa, Pendik, Zeytinburnu and Karaköy ports.
While arrivals by air declined 23 percent in 2016 compared to 2015, arrivals by sea plunged 89 percent.
The highest plunge was seen in arrivals from the United States, Iraq and Russia in 2016 compared to the previous year. While the number of U.S. tourists visiting Istanbul saw a year-on-year decrease of 43.2 percent, this percentage was 43.1 for Iraqi tourists. The number of arrivals from Russia also decreased by 39.2 percent in 2016 compared to 2015.
The largest number of foreign tourists came from Europe with 3.9 million arrivals and the Middle East with 2.3 million. These were followed by Asia, Africa, North America, Latin America and Oceania.
Germans topped the list by taking 10.9 percent of the share in total arrivals in 2016, followed by Iranians at 7 percent, Saudi Arabians at 5.2 percent, Britons at 4 percent, French tourists at 3.9 percent, Americans at 3.5 percent and Russians at 3.2 percent, according to official data.
Huge losses in Antalya
The number of foreign arrivals into the Mediterranean resort of Antalya, another top tourism destination, also plummeted to their lowest since 2004.
The number of foreign arrivals to Antalya declined to 6 million in 2016, a 43 percent decrease compared to 2015, mainly due to the Russian crisis and rising security concerns.
The number of Russian arrivals decreased to 500,000 in 2016 from around 3.5 million, while German arrivals fell from 3 million to 1.9 million, according to data from the local tourism authority.
Germany was the top tourist source for Antalya, taking 32 percent of the share in total arrivals in 2016, followed by Ukraine. Russia ranked third on the list, thanks to a dramatic rise in arrivals from the country after a normalization of bilateral ties started in late summer.