Turkey experienced a surge in visitors from the Gulf regions in the first four months of the year, according to the country’s Cultural and Tourism Office.
In particular, the country recorded healthy rises in the number of visitors from GCC states Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait, namely 46 per cent, 40 per cent and 28 per cent respectively compared to the same period in 2013.
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which also includes the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Oman, currently accounts for five per cent of Turkey’s tourism revenues, which totalled $32.3 billion in 2013, according to figures from Turkey’s official statistics agency Türksat.
While Istanbul remains the most popular Turkish city with visitors from the GCC, Antalya, Bodrum and Bursa are also rapidly becoming destinations of choice, especially during the peak summer period in July and August.
“These figures are understandable because the GCC and Turkey both have historical and cultural ties, and this is evident in the increase of tourists over the last year. Tourists are choosing the country based on its locality, cost and historical richness,” said Mustafa Özdemir, Turkey’s tourism representative at the country’s consulate in Dubai. “In order to further increase visitors and highlight Turkey to the GCC, we will be looking for opportunities to invest in tourism in order to foster sustainable growth and mutual understanding between our two countries.”
To cater for a growing Arab tourist market, the Turkish Culture and Tourism Ministry opened an Arabic-language website in late 2012. Turkey is the sixth most visited country in the world, according to 2013 statistics from the UN.