New agency to move Turkey high up in tourism league: Minister

New agency to move Turkey high up in tourism league: Minister

Burak Çoşan-ISTANBUL
New agency to move Turkey high up in tourism league: Minister

The newly founded tourism promotion agency will help Turkey to explore its potential and climb up higher in the rankings of the tourism league, the country’s Tourism Minister Mehmet Ersoy said.

Parliament on July 11 ratified a bill to establish a new agency to promote and further develop tourism in the country.

The agency aims to help Turkey take a larger slice of tourism revenues and it will also help boost the number of tourists.

“We have not invented it [the agency]. We studied similar bodies across the world and launched our own agency. The primary task of the agency is to promote Turkey. Then comes the task of exploring the country’s potential and create new products and improve the quality of services,” Ersoy said.

“When you combine those three tasks in a sustainable manner, you succeed. If you want to compete in the league of big players, you have to succeed in promoting the country and turning it into a brand.”

The minister noted that seven out of the top 10 countries that generate the largest revenues from tourism activities have such a promotion agency.

Italy established its promotion agency 100 years ago, Spain 37 years and France 32 years ago, according to the minister.

Those countries with high tourism revenues have two things in common, according to the minister: A global airline and a promotion agency.

“We have the best global airlines [Turkish Airlines]. But it did not have flights to destinations we want to reach. Starting from April, it launched flights from the airports in Antalya, Dalaman, Bodrum and İzmir to the countries that have the largest share in the number of foreign tourists visiting Turkey,” he said.

The agency’s initial budget will be around $125-150 million, according to Ersoy.

The budget will be funded by cuts to be made from the annual turnover of companies operating in the tourism industry, including accommodation facilities, tourism agencies, and airlines.

In response to criticism that transfers from companies’ turnovers to the agency may hurt the firms, the minister said that the cuts will be only a tiny fraction of their annual turnover, adding that: “The ministry will also contribute to the agency’s budget. At least 85 percent of the budget will go to promotional activities.”

The agency will have a 15-person board, including the tourism minister, the deputy minister, the general manager of Tourism Promotion and CEO of the national flag carrier Turkish Airlines.

Eleven representatives from the private sector will also have seats at the board.

The number of foreign arrivals in Turkey surged 11.3 percent year-on-year in the first five months of this year, according to official data.

Nearly 12.8 million foreigners visited the country this January-May, compared to 11.5 million in the same period last year.