Turkish tourism sector set to say ‘back to Istanbul’

Turkish tourism sector set to say ‘back to Istanbul’

A number of leading Turkish tourism players are set to launch a campaign to promote Istanbul as a top global tourism brand again after a tough period that especially hit the country’s top tourism destination. 

Istanbul hotels’ loss in revenue exceeded 1 billion euros in the first half of 2017 compared to the same period of 2015, despite a recent ease in security concerns, a leading sector association stated on July 31. 

Istanbul again saw the largest revenue loss among all European destinations in 2017. The revenue per room regressed from 39.4 euros to 32.7 euros in the first six months of the year, according to STR Global data. 

The general manager of the Sofa Hotel Nişantaşı, Cantekin Temizer, said the planned campaign will call people all over the world to be “back to Istanbul.” 

“Istanbul was one of the world’s top five global tourist destinations until a couple of years ago. The city even became the most popular business event destination of the world. The Istanbul brand has, however, lost its value due to a chain of unfortunate events, which could not be managed well by all parties, including our sector, since 2013,” said Temizer, who has been in the sector for more than 30 years and worked for the country’s leading global and local hotels and event organizers. 

“We must stop being pessimistic about Istanbul and about our sector. We need to tell people across the world that ‘Istanbul is still great.’ In a bid to achieve this, we will soon launch a worldwide one-year project to call foreigners back to Istanbul and Turkey,” he said, while not giving further details about the planned project before an official launch. 

Temizer, who organized a number of jet set events in Istanbul, Cappadocia and other popular tourism spots until the end of 2012, said what Turkey’s tourism sector urgently needs is to focus on sustainable reputation management. 

“Bad things or bomb attacks can happen anywhere in the world. The point is to improve the image as soon as possible to move on. Paris or London can do this after many attacks. Why shouldn’t Istanbul do this?” he asked, noting that Turkey should develop promotional campaigns on a country basis rather than a global or regional one. 

He also noted that all sector players should work collaboratively to regain Turkey’s biggest markets, mainly in Europe, ahead of a meeting on Aug. 9, held by the Istanbul Hoteliers’ Platform, to gather Turkish players with their European counterparts. 

The platform was established in 2015 by Barış Türer to take a role in resolving the sector’s problems and to make a contribution to the sector’s growth, according to its guideline. 

A 2017 data from Turkey’s tourism ministry showed that the arrivals in Istanbul saw a 17 percent increase in June compared to the same month of 2016. The data also showed that the city lured the largest number of tourists from Germany, Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Iraq in the first half of the year. These markets were Germany, Russia, France, the United Kingdom and the United States in 2005, the same report showed. 

Istanbul will sooner or later rise again. The main point will be whether the Istanbul brand will be dubbed again with its previous competitors, including Paris. Or will it embrace another position in the world’s tourism spectrum?