Cards report reflects big rise in tourists from Arab nations

Cards report reflects big rise in tourists from Arab nations

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Cards report reflects big rise in tourists from Arab nations

An Iranian woman swims at a pool in the southern province of Antalya. A study shows that tourists from the Middle East enliven local retail and tourism businesses.

More tourists from Arab countries are splurging in Turkey’s shops, playing a significant role in the 35 percent rise in foreign credit card transactions in Turkey in the first half of 2011, according to a recent report.

The rise in the total volume of foreign credit card transactions reached $2.3 billion in the first half of the year, a 35 percent rise in volume compared to the same period last year, according to The Interbank Card Center, or BKM, report.

“A few years ago, the total volume of transactions through foreign credit cards was really small in Turkey,” Soner Canko, general manager of BKM, told a press meeting in Istanbul regarding the report. “It has risen thanks to Arab tourists who have chosen Turkey as a holiday and shopping destination in the region.” The total volume of the transactions reached $1 billion in May and June.

“This shows a trend in foreigners spending in Turkey,” Canko said. He also said the radical political changes currently occurring in the Middle East and North Africa played an important role in the recent rise in the number of Arab tourists visiting Turkey.

 Arab tourists tend to shop more and pay for each service separately rather than purchasing package tours or all-inclusive holidays offered on the southern coast of the country, he said.

The total number of tourists visiting Turkey increased 14.6 percent in the first five months of the year compared with January-May last year, according to official data from the Tourism Ministry. In May, tourists from Yemen were up 87 percent from last year, while the rise in tourists from Saudi Arabia and Iraq was 79.3 percent and 45.84 percent, respectively.

The aim of the BKM is to create a society using “no cash at all,” Canko said. This would help the actors of the economy, sector representatives and officials to fight against the black economy as well, he added.

E-commerce business hits over 57,000

There has also been a dramatic surge in purchases over the Internet, Canko said.

The number of e-commerce businesses reached 57,387 by the end of June – up from 1,993 in 2003, the BKM report said. “Now there is a self-service lifestyle trend,” said Canko, noting that not many people were purchasing flight tickets through travel agencies anymore.

One of the main responsibilities of the card center, he said, was to implement new methods in using bank cards for shopping. “We aim to boost the growing trend of e-commerce.”

In the first half of the year, the total number of e-commerce transactions reached 58.1 million, a 40 percent rise compared to the same period of last year, according to the BKM report. The total transaction volume through e-commerce sites hit 10.4 billion Turkish Liras in the first half of the year.