Turkey seeks Asian tourists to reach goal of 50 million visitors
Hande Fırat / Umut Erdem - ANKARA
Turkey will open to Asian markets in a bid to multiply the number of foreign visitors, Culture and Tourism Minister Numan Kurtulmuş told daily Hürriyet, signaling new promotion campaigns.
“Despite the big propaganda carried out against Turkey, some 6 million people visited Istanbul in the first six months of 2017,” said Kurtulmuş, adding that around 540,000 of these visitors were German citizens.
He noted that the official tourism goal for 2023, the 100th anniversary of the foundation of the Republic of Turkey, was 50 million visitors and $50 billion in tourism revenues per year.
“To achieve these goals, we will diversify in both markets and products. We particularly have to focus on new markets in the Far East such as China, Japan, India and South Korea,” Kurtulmuş added.
“Hopefully, Turkey will achieve these goals thanks to diversification. Of course, we will have special promotion campaigns in these countries,” he said.
Commenting on main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu’s remarks questioning the safety of Turkey for tourists, Kurtulmuş said they were “very unfortunate” and “unfair.”
“All cities in the world face the threat of terrorism. But everyone should know that all of Turkey’s touristic destinations, including Antalya, Istanbul and İzmir, are at least as safe as Paris, Brussels and Berlin,” he said.
Regarding the potential effects of the ongoing tension between Berlin and Ankara on a number of issues related to Turkish tourism, the culture minister said he does not think the tension would last long.
“The tension is a consequence of a wave inside Europe’s domestic politics. There is a very powerful anti-foreigner, anti-immigrant and anti-Islam wave. The anti-Turkey attitude has taken the form of a fixed state. This might win politicians some favor but it is a very risky situation for Europe. This tension will not last,” Kurtulmuş said.
“Despite the black propaganda in Europe, especially in Germany, tourists are still coming to Istanbul. For example, tour operators in Britain want to increase their reservations in Turkey by 107 percent next year. These are promising developments,” he added.
Kurtulmuş previously served as deputy prime minister and government spokesperson before he was assigned to the Culture and Tourism Ministry in a cabinet reshuffle on July 19.
He said both positions had their own difficulties but vowed to “take major steps” in the area of culture and tourism to stimulate Turkey’s struggling tourism sector.
He stressed that it is a necessity to boost alternative tourism areas, including “plateau tourism, health tourism and congress tourism” in the country.
Commenting on his own personal holiday opportunities, Kurtulmuş said the high tempo of politics in Turkey does not allow for many vacations, though he was able to visit Cappadocia in central Turkey for two days back in April.