Hotel chains to lure domestic tourists
The 22nd East Mediterranean International Tourism & Travel Exhibition (EMITT), an important fair for the tourism sector, started on Jan. 25.
Nearly 4,500 representatives of the tourism sector from 108 countries, including India, Indonesia, Philippines, Russia, Italy, Greece and Bulgaria, are participating in the fair. The Hilton hotel chain, which came to Turkey in 1955, is one of the groups that will have a stand at the exhibition for the first time. Speaking to a group of journalists, Armin Zerunyan, the country director of Hilton Turkey, explained the developments in the sector as well as the targets of the group.
The Hilton Group is present in Turkey with five of its brands, Hilton Resort, Conrad, DoubleTree by Hilton, Hilton Garden Inn and Hampton.
Occupancy rate at 62 percent
According to the information provided by Zerunyan, there are 11,360 beds in 57 hotels. Twenty-one of the hotels are under Hilton’s management, whereas the rest are franchises.
The Hilton Group opened 10 new hotels in 2016, seven new hotels in 2017 and will open nine new hotels in 2018, he said.
Twenty-seven new hotels are under construction, being planned or have signed on the project. “Turkey is an important country for Hilton. The tourism sector in Turkey has always found an opportunity to grow. We are quite optimistic for long term possibilities in Turkey,” said the director.
The year 2017 was better than 2016, thanks to tourists that came from the Gulf states and Iran, Zerunyan told journalists. The occupancy rate went up to 62 percent for their group, while there is no positive development yet in terms of income.
The operation that Turkey started in Afrin has not affected tourism, he said.
“Tourists who come to Turkey are now used to these types of events. That does not affect their travel preferences. The number of tourists from the United States and the West is rather limited. We have not seen a reaction or a cancellation,” said Zerunyan.
Importance of local tourists
It has become better understood that local tourists are important for Turkey, as occupancy rates in Anatolian hotels have reached 90 percent, he said.
“This year, we will launch campaigns that specifically target local tourists. That is the reason why we are participating in the EMITT for the first time. On the other hand, just like Turkey, we will try to attract tourists from China, India and Pakistan. Chinese tourists, whose welfare has been on the rise, first discovered Paris and London. They are now in search of new destinations. We have started promoting Turkey and Istanbul in these regions, especially through social media,” said the director.
International meetings and congress need to start to bring tourism back to its previous levels, especially in Istanbul, he said. Zerunyan, who said there were no reservations until 2019, believes this will change after 2020.
He added that the Hilton Group will create 2,100 employment opportunities in the course of the next three to five years.