Turkish tourism sector eyes Iranian visitors

Turkish tourism sector eyes Iranian visitors

Turkish tourism sector eyes Iranian visitors

A picture taken on January 18, 2016 shows Iranians walking past shop windows on a street in the capital Tehran. AFP Photo

Turkey’s tourism representatives have planned an extensive promotional campaign to lure more Iranian tourists into the country, the Turkish Touristic Hotels and Investors Association (TUROB) said in a written statement on Jan. 25.

The sector has recently been battered amid a sharp decrease in the number of Russian tourists visiting Turkey and escalating security concerns triggered by a terror attack in Istanbul which left 10 German tourists dead on Jan. 12. Sector players are now accelerating their moves to diversify the country’s tourism sources to overcome losses and Iran will be a key country to focus on, according to the statement. 

In the first stage, TUROB will host a total of 50 travel agencies and tour operators from seven different Iranian cities, including Tehran, Isfahan and Tabriz, over this week. A number of leading touristic spots in Istanbul will be presented to Iranian guests during this tour, said TUROB. 

The expected positive impact of this organization, which was made with cooperation between TUROB and Turkish Airlines, is expected to be felt in March, when Iran will celebrate the annual Nevruz festival, according to the statement. 

The association will also attend the TITE Tourism Fair in Tehran next week in a broad delegation in cooperation with the Culture and Tourism Ministry. 

Saying that Turkey can overcome its losses from the Russian market in part by focusing on the Iranian market as well as the European market, TUROB President Timur Bayındır noted: “One of the largest sources of foreign tourists for Turkey is Iran… With the lifting of the sanctions against Iran we’ll see normalization in many sectors, including the tourism sector. We expect positive yields in the sector.”

Turkey hosted around 1.9 million tourists from Iran in 2010, although this figure regressed to 1.1 million in 2012.

“We are now trying to increase this figure again. Turkey lured around 1.2 million tourists from Iran in 2013 and around 1.6 million in 2014… According to temporary data from the Tourism Ministry, the number of foreign people visiting Turkey decreased 1.3 percent in the first 11 months of 2015 compared to the same period of 2014, but we saw a hike in the Iranian market. Around 1.6 million Iranian people visited Turkey in this period, an increase of around 6.3 percent compared to the same period of 2014,” said Bayındır. 

He noted Iranian tourist groups were among the top shoppers in the country, as the largest amount of tax refunds were taken by them after shopping in Turkey. 

Tourism revenue is important for Turkey, accounting for around 4.5 percent of its $800-billion economy and playing a crucial role in closing the multi-billion-dollar current account gap.