Turkey’s tourism revenues doubled to $24.5 bln in 2021
Turkey’s tourism revenues increased by 103 percent on an annual basis to $24.48 billion last year, according to official data released on Jan. 31, reflecting a recovery from the initial wave of COVID-19 pandemic measures in 2020.
The figure for last year fell short of the all-time high of $34.5 billion set in 2019, prior to the outbreak of the pandemic, the Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK) data showed.
Turkiye welcomed 29.4 million visitors last year, an increase of 85.5 percent compared to 2020, but down from 51.9 million in 2019.
Average tourism expenditures per capita stood at $1,029 in 2021, up from $926 in 2020.
In the fourth quarter of 2021, tourism revenues rose 95 percent to $7.63 billion, only 3 percent below the level in October-December 2019.
In the same period, while individual expenditures constituted $5.88 billion of the total tourism income, $1.74 billion of tourism income was obtained by package tour expenditures.
The data showed that visitors spent the most on food and beverages (nearly $5.4 billion), as well as clothes and shoes ($3.2 billion), last year.
“In this year, while foreign visitors visited Turkey mostly for ‘travel, entertainment, sportive and cultural activities’ with 71.4 percent, Turkish citizens resident abroad visited mostly for ‘visiting relatives and friends’ with 64.5 percent,” it said.
Separately, the Culture and Tourism Ministry also announced that foreigner visits to Turkey had surged 94 percent annually, from 24.7 million in 2020.
Istanbul was the top tourist destination in the country with over 9 million arrivals, accounting for 36.5 percent of all foreign visitors in 2021.
The Mediterranean resort city of Antalya followed with 8.7 million foreign visitors last year.
The third top destination was the northwestern province of Edirne, which borders both Bulgaria and Greece, welcoming some 2.6 million foreigners.
As for the nationalities of foreign visitors, Russia took first place with 19 percent - some 5 million visitors - over the same period, followed by Germany (12.5 percent or 3.1 million) and Ukraine (8.3 percent or 2.1 million).
Tourism revenues are vital for the country’s current account balance and to keep the value of the Turkish Lira stable.
In November 2021, the Turkish government announced a shift to a current account surplus as a centrepiece of its new economic policy, which is based on low interest rates and stronger exports.
Turkey aims to generate $35 billion in tourism revenues in 2022, Culture and Tourism Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy has said, noting that early holiday reservations are already strong.
“2019 was a very good year when Turkey welcomed nearly 51.7 million foreign tourists and revenues amounted to $34.5 billion. However, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, foreign tourist arrivals and revenues declined to 16 million people and $12 billion, respectively, in 2020,” Ersoy said in a televised interview on Jan. 13.