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Turkey Welcomes Influx of Wealthy Arab Tourists

Posted on 08 July 2011

We recently reported that tourism to Turkey had increased by 14.56 percent in the first five months of this year, compared to the same period in 2010 according to data from the Ministry of Tourism.

However, far more significant in the larger scheme of things is the market share of global locations, which show huge rises in the number of tourists from Arab states, which represents a wealthier breed of tourists; something that the Turkish tourism industry has long hoped for, and something that is benefiting economies of tourists haunts the length and breadth of the country.

In May, tourists from Yemen were up 87 percent from last year, and tourists from Saudi Arabia and Iraq increased by 79.3 percent and 45.84 respectively.

Retailers in Istanbul are reporting a roaring trade in the city as the Arabs flood in.

“Our foreign customers are mostly from Saudi Arabia. They have good taste in jewellery and usually go for the big rocks,” said Erkan Zengin, a store manager for an upmarket Turkish jewellery company.

“They are not like Turks. They like a shoe, ask for their size, try it on, go to the cashier and pay. Turks want to try on 20 pairs of shoes before making up their mind,” said a clerk from a leather shoe and jacket store near the same jewellers. “Our favourite customers are Arabs because of their quick decisions and high purchasing power.”

The rise in the number of visitors from the Arab World has been put down to two main factors; one: the Arab Spring which dented confidence in Arab destinations and at the same time increased Turkey’s perception of stability and serenity within the Muslim World, and two: increasing Arab interest in Turkish culture — from TV soap operas, pop music and food to Turkey’s rehabilitation of its Ottoman history.

Whatever the cause long may it continue we say.

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