Foreigners flock to Istanbul for Christmas holiday

Foreigners flock to Istanbul for Christmas holiday

Burak Coşan – ISTANBUL
Foreigners flock to Istanbul for Christmas holiday

A number of foreign tourists, particularly from Europe, are flocking to Istanbul for the Christmas holiday this year, according to a Turkish hoteliers’ association.

“There is strong demand for the hotels located in and around Taksim, one of Istanbul’s most popular tourist attractions, thus occupancy rates at those hotels hit 100 percent,” said Müberra Eresin, vice chair of the Hotel Association of Turkey.

“Some hotels are organizing New Year’s day events, designed especially for their European guests. We have the diversification we have been seeking,” Eresin added.

Over the past couple of years, Turkey received fewer European tourists while visitors from Arab nations have been on the rise.

“This year tourists from Italy, Spain and Latin American countries as well as Japanese tourists are booking reservations for the hotels in Istanbul,” Eresin said, adding that people from Iraq and Palestinians are travelling to Turkey for the New Year celebration.

Istanbul will host a total of 13 million tourists this year, and the hotels in the city has the capacity to accommodate up to 20 million visitors, according to Halil Kormaz, the head of the Istanbul Tourism Association (İSTTA).

New Year concert by Istanbul State Opera and Ballet
New Year concert by Istanbul State Opera and Ballet

Turkey was the most popular foreign destination for Russian tourists in 2018, with visitor numbers rising 25 percent, said a trade group on Dec. 26, Anadolu Agency reported.

The overall Russian tourist flow grew 8 percent in 2018 compared to the previous year, Maya Lomidze, head of the Russian Association of Tour Operators, told a news conference in Moscow.

This growth was ensured thanks to high demand for tours to several countries, including Turkey, she said.

“The tourist flow to Turkey grew 25 percent this year. The number one destination in 2018 was Turkey,” she added.

Other popular destinations for Russian tourists include Germany, Italy, Spain, Greece, the United Arab Emirates, Tunisia, and France.

Lomidze stressed that visa-free travel and short-terms flights are among the most important factors when Russian tourists choose their destination.

Turkish tourism,