If malls become tourist destinations

If malls become tourist destinations

The Bayram brought its good fortune and richness with it. 

Head of the Association of Turkish Travel Agencies (TÜRSAB) Başaran Ulusoy said this month, i.e. the month of October, there were literally record breaking figures in terms of “foreign tourists.” Turkey’s vacation spots were almost 100 percent full.

Compared to one year ago, the increase rate is 30 percent. 

I am personally the witness of how Istanbul particularly experienced a tourist influx these days.

During the Bayram holiday, while I was visiting the 13th Istanbul Biennial, I saw with surprise that foreign tourists outnumbered Istanbul residents at the exhibition venues.

Americans, French and Italians were wandering the exhibition venues in groups, accompanied by guides. 

Turkey’s tourism success has also been endorsed by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), which is actually a United Nations agency based in Madrid. 

According to the organization’s most recent data, Turkey, together with Thailand and Hong Kong, is the third country in the world where the tourism revenue has increased the most. 

It is good news that the Head of the World Tourism Organization Taleb Rifai stated despite the recession in global economy, the numbers of international tourism are rising. 

As a matter of fact, tourism is a vital opportunity for employment. 

Apparently, the bright future of tourism has attracted the world’s outstanding capital. For example, we have learned from news reports that one of the richest people in the world, Chelsea’s Russian boss Roman Abramovitch has called on Bodrum coasts with his luxurious 160-meter Eclipse yacht and that he has been looking for land for a golf-hotel investment. 

Just like the Azeri businessperson Mübariz Mansimov who invested $120 million in Palmarina at Yalıkavak, Bodrum, which was the most “in” place these past summer months, the interest of Abramovitch in Bodrum should not surprise us. 

We come across more and more that the tourism vision is dominating in investments in the Turkish business world. 

Recently, I visited the eastern city Gaziantep, where the owner of the famous Sahan restaurant chain, Tahir Öztan, transformed a 300-year old caravanserai into a 200-bed hotel named Şırahan. He organized, for the first time in the city, a “gastronomy festival.” 

In our conversation, Öztan said the reason behind organizing the festival was “gastronomy tourism.” 

It is highly appropriate that “gastronomy tourism,” which is not known very well in Turkey, starts in the city of Gaziantep, which is known for its baklavas, kebabs and its unique cuisine. 

In an interview in a paper on Oct. 21, Head of the Executive Committee of Zorlu Holding, Ahmet Nazif Zorlu mentioned “shopping mall tourism.” 

In the interview, Ahmet Nazif Zorlu praised the Performing Arts Center and the mall at the Zorlu Center he built at the heart of Istanbul, the cost of which is said to have exceeded $2.5 billion. 

Zorlu explained that for this shopping center, he has gone to Hong Kong for various assessments. He said, “In Hong Kong, there are 15 stores of the same brand. We wanted to bring famous brands from New York, London and Paris, right to the consumer’s reach.” 

He added, “You will see. People from Iran, Russia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and even from the Balkans will come to the mall at Zorlu Center.” He went on, “I bet that tourists from India and Pakistan will come to shop at Zorlu Center.” 

While trying to focus on “gastronomy tourism” and “mall tourism,” maybe one day, it will be as easy as a pie for us that soon Turkey will ascend to the first place in the list of the countries tourists prefer the most. 

Note for those who may wish to know: Turkey has become the sixth most visited country in the world in 2012.