Good news and bad news for Turkey’s tourism sector

Good news and bad news for Turkey’s tourism sector

Turkey’s tourism sector has been sending mixed signals, according to a recent report by the World Economic Forum. The country was ranked 44th among 141 countries in the competitiveness index, although Turkey was also the sixth-most visited country by foreign tourists, according to the report, titled “The Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index 2015 Ranking.” 

The tourism sector plays a big role in Turkey’s economic growth, but the country has much more potential than it could realize, as the report has elaborated in figures and facts. 

Over 38 million people visited Turkey in 2013, making Turkey the sixth-most visited country after France, the United States, Spain, China and Italy. 

Turkey was ranked 44th in the competitiveness index, which is calculated upon four main headings with 14 sub-items, including enabling a touristic environment, enabling policy and environmental conditions, offering infrastructure and protecting natural and cultural resources. 

Before proceeding into the details of Turkey’s recordings in these items, let me give the top 10 competitors in the report: Spain tops the 2015 edition of the global rankings for the first time, followed by France, Germany, the U.S., the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Australia, Italy, Japan and Canada. Unlike Turkey, they are also on the list of most visited countries.

Turkey took the worst points in the safety and security index of the report. The country was ranked 121st in the 141-country list in giving the perception of being a country which is “safe and secure.” 

Turkey also ranked 121st in business costs of terrorism and 103rd in reliability of police forces, according to the report. 

In the Middle East and North Africa region, the United Arab Emirates leads the ranking, as the country has been seen a relatively “safe haven.” 

“As political unrest affected other parts of the Middle East, tourism grew strongly in Qatar and the UAE. Similarly, Greece, Cyprus and Turkey benefited from conflict in Egypt, Israel, Jordan and Lebanon in the 1990s, as tourists saw them as alternatives to experience Middle Eastern flair and ancient sights,” said the report. 

Another negative indicator for Turkey’s tourism sector is seen in maintaining environmental sustainability, according to the report. The country was ranked 95th in maintaining environmental sustainability, although its natural resources are praised in general. 

Turkey’s tourism sector experienced problems in hiring qualified staff, according to the report. The country was ranked 91st in its extent of staff training among 141 countries, although it was ranked 32nd in customer treatment. 

Turkey took average points in transport infrastructure and tourism facility infrastructure. The report says the country took its best scores in cultural resources and business travel. 

Turkey ranked 14th on the list of best places for business travel and 16th in the number of World Heritage cultural sites. 

As the report has shown, there are miles to drive for Turkey to realize its great tourism potential. The country needs to offer more safety and security standards, environmental sustainability and qualified tourism education to lure more tourists. It is not easy to achieve this, which is closely related to any country’s perception abroad, but it can be achieved gradually through a number of well-defined and implemented policies by the public sector in cooperation with the private sector, as best practices have shown.