Istanbul named third favorite European travel destination in MasterCard’s annual index

Istanbul named third favorite European travel destination in MasterCard’s annual index

Istanbul named third favorite European travel destination in MasterCard’s annual index

Istanbul ranks seventh across the globe in total number of travelers with 11.6 million visitors. DAILY NEWS Photo / Emrah Gürel

Istanbul has been named as the third favorite European destination of choice for international travelers after London and Paris, according MasterCard’s Target Cities Index.

With 11.6 million expected visitors for the 2014-end, Istanbul also ranks seventh across the globe, according to the list topped by London for the third time in four years with 18.37 million visitors.

Now in its fourth year, the index provides a ranking of the 132 most travelled cities from around the world.

Turkey’s largest, most-populated city, which hosted 9.87 million visitors in 2013, is predicted to record a 17.5 percent growth at the end of 2014 and expected to rank top in visitor growth rate, a statement released by MasterCard Turkey has said.

Istanbul, the fastest growing city between 2009 and 2014 in terms of visitors coming by flight, is expected to overtake Paris as the second top favorite European destination by 2016 if it preserves the 104.6 percent level of five-year growth.

According to the Culture and Tourism Provincial Directorate’s monthly tourism statistics, Istanbul has already hosted 5.38 million tourists in the first six months of the year, marking a 9 percent rise from the same period of last year.

The city also ranks fourth in Europe in terms of visitor spending, as tourists coming to Istanbul are expected spend $9.38 billion, meaning $1,351 of income per Istanbul resident.

 “The index points to a continued strong demand and interest in air travel, both for business and personal travel,” said Ann Cairns, president of International Markets, MasterCard.

“The recognition of this year’s top international destinations reinforces the continued importance of cities as business, cultural and economic hubs. And, that’s where we come in. Every day, we help consumers and businesses maximize all of the travel opportunities available to them, including a safe and secure way to pay, no matter where they are across the globe.”

The MasterCard Index of Global Destination Cities ranks cities in terms of the number of their total international visitor arrivals and the cross-border spending by these same visitors in the destination cities, and gives visitor and passenger growth forecasts for 2014.

The number of tourists to Turkey is expected to rise to a record high of 43 million this year, with a moderate increase in tourism income also projected, according to Başaran Ulusoy, the chairman of the Association of Turkish Travel Agencies (TÜRSAB).

The tourist income figure exceeded $34 million last year, according to figures by TÜRSAB, and although it predicts a rise in the number of tourists this year, it also foresees a fall in income per tourist.