Economic crisis drives more visitors to Istanbul
ISTANBUL - Anatolia News Agency
A couple talks to tourism information agents by Hagia Sophia, an Istanbul landmark. Every year more tourists visit the city.
The number of tourists to visit Istanbul from several crisis-hit European countries, such as Greece, Spain and Italy, doubled in the first seven months of the year when compared with figures last year, according to figures by the Culture and Tourism Directorate.
This added to a significant increase in tourists from Middle Eastern and North African countries such as Syria, Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, the figures said.
The number of visitors to Istanbul rose 15 percent in the first seven months of the year when compared with figures last year, nearing 4.5 million. Nearly 900,000 tourists from Germany topped the list of visitors, as citizens of Middle Eastern countries, Russia, the U.S. and France followed.
The directorate’s data is based on records from the Atatürk and Sabiha Gökçen airports along with the Haydarpaşa, Pendik and Karaköy ports in the city.
More than 4.2 million tourists preferred to reach the city by air, while an additional 245,474 came by sea.
Some 3.9 million foreigners visited Istanbul in 2010.
The tourism officials told the Anatolia news agency that tourists to Turkey, particularly those from Arab countries, do not leave the country without seeing Istanbul, even if they first arrive in other provinces.
The recent lifting of visa requirements with Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Egypt has supported a rise in tourists from these Middle Eastern countries, the directorate said.
The officials said Turkish TV series broadcast in these countries in Arabic played an important role in the increase.
The official data also showed that one person from each of these countries visited Turkey: Bermuda, Greenland, Gilbert Islands, Palau and the Marshal Islands.