Turkish tourists to flood to Jerusalem for peace
Burak Coşan ISTANBUL
Only around 15,000 Turkish tourists visited Jerusalem this year, but TÜRSAB aims to boost this number through coordination with the Tourism Ministry.Turkey’s top tourism association has announced 2015 as the “Year of Jerusalem,” aiming to send around 100,000 Turkish tourists to Jerusalem over the course of the year to contribute to peacemaking efforts there.
“One of the synonyms of tourism is peace. We want to make a contribution to maintaining peace in Jerusalem by increasing the number of tourists there,” said the head of the Association of Turkish Travel Agencies (TÜRSAB), Başaran Ulusoy.
Only around 15,000 Turkish tourists visited Jerusalem this year, but TÜRSAB aims to boost this number through coordination with the Tourism Ministry.
“We want to increase this number to 100,000 in 2015 by preparing special package tours to Jerusalem with the help of the promotional activities of the Tourism Ministry. Turkey’s airline companies should also start discounted flights to the city, and in this way we can reach our 2015 target,” he said.
According to figures released by the Tourism Ministry, 24,000 Turks visited Israel in 2013, including day visitors and cruise tourists, the highest ever figure.
Overall tourism to Israel was worth $11 billion last year, some 4.5 percent of the country’s annual GDP. Tourism employs 100,000 workers in Israel, two-thirds of whom in the hotel industry.
Meanwhile, the number of Israeli tourists to Turkey has started to recover after the 2010 Mavi Marmara raid, according to official figures. Israel was once one of Turkey’s most important sources of tourists with 331,582 visitors in 2009, when there was talk of a future potential 600,000 Israeli tourists visiting Turkey every year.