‘Tourism will improve in 2017’: Culture and tourism minister
Pınar Erdoğan - ANKARA
Tourism is expected to improve in 2017, Culture and Tourism Minister Nabi Avcı has said, noting that tourism indicators, especially in the Russian market, were rising after Turkey’s tourism industry experienced a crisis in 2016.
“We have received good indicators about tourism. First of all, the Russian market is getting better in spite of everything. It is getting better because Russian people are aware of what kind of attacks we are and they are facing,” Avcı said Jan. 18 in a meeting with journalists.
“Apart from that, the European market is expected to pick up; we also have indicators about that,” he said.
Noting that 2016 was a difficult year for Turkey in terms of tourism because of deadly terrorist attacks and political turmoil, Avcı said Turkey would launch a new promotional strategy.
“As you know, the Russian market was cut after the downing of a Russian plane in 2015. Also, with consecutive terrorist attacks, the European market shrank critically. Consequently, 2016 was a very narrow year for these markets. We took lessons from that; we wanted to get out of our conventional strategy which advertised Turkey as just a beach tourism [destination],” he said.
Stating that Turkey’s promotion strategy had been limited to Russia, Germany and Britain, Avcı said Turkey was planning to diversify its tourism market.
“For the diversification of the market, we are planning to enrich our market from China to North America and South America apart from just Russia, Germany and Britain,” he said.
“There were vacancies on the council of our general directorate of promotion; we are filling those vacancies … We will open new consultancies. Apart from that, we will attend more than 150 international tourism exhibitions,” Avcı said.
“In those exhibitions, we will conduct more specific promotions for Turkey, either for destinations like Van, Cappadocia or Eskişehir, or in a field like health tourism, gastronomic tourism or historical tourism,” he said.
“Turkey is not just a sea, sand and sun country, Turkey also has a very rich culinary culture, which is well-suited to gastronomic tourism,” he added.
First visit to Israel as part of normalization efforts
Avcı’s first destination as part of promotional efforts will be Israel for the International Mediterranean Tourism Market on Feb. 7 and 8.
The visit holds special significance since it will be the first ministerial-level visit to the country after Turkey-Israel relations came to a breaking point when Israeli marines stormed a ship aiming to break a naval blockade on the Hamas-run Gaza Strip in May 2010, killing 10 Turkish activists on board. After normalizing relations, the countries exchanged ambassadors last month.
“We will make the visit for the tourism exhibition, but this visit will not be limited to tourism. Turkey had relations with Israel in the past within the scope of cultural relations, universities and scientific studies; the visit will also focus on these areas,” Avcı said in a meeting with reporters that included the Hürriyet Daily News on Jan. 18.
“First of all, I will meet with my counterparts responsible for culture, tourism and science, as well as college circles,” Avcı said.
“There were projects that we conducted with Israel before that were either left unattended or which continued at a low level. Accelerating these activities … and increasing cultural relations will be the main topic,” Avcı added.
New TV series with Russia
Avcı also said the ministry was working on the future production of a joint historic TV series with Russia.
“In a meeting with Russian media in Antalya, in October 2016, we received proposals for a joint TV series with Russia. And as the ministry, we said we could be instrumental in this production, and we are being instrumental in working on two parts,” he said.