For the first five months of 2019, tourism in Istanbul exceeded 5 million people to match previous records set in 2014. With a rise of 11% year-on-year, the city’s turbulent times are behind them as tourists started returning in 2018, and look set to continue this trend throughout the year.
A publication by the Istanbul Governor’s office said 5.4 million tourists of varying nationalities visited Turkey’s biggest and most prominent city from January to May 2019.
This figure is keeping in line with Turkish tourism overall, which has also seen an 11% increase. The final aim for 2019 is to host 15 million people.
Germans led the way with the highest number of visitors coming in at 394,925 people, followed by 337,428 Iranians, and 290,985 Russians. For many decades, Russians and Germans have adored Turkey, and often holiday in Antalya’s Mediterranean region as well.
While, the newfound love affair with Iranians has also impacted the medical industry with many visiting for hair transplants. Iranians are also investing in its real estate market.
Insiders give credit for the surge to the new airport, bed capacity, service qualities, and competitive prices. The statement further said that 42 out of every 100 tourists landing in Turkey visited Istanbul, therefore proving its importance for the country’s travel market.
Establishments like the Grand Bazaar welcome the results. Just two years ago, they were contemplating their future after a significant drop in visitors. Hosting over 3500 shops, only three remain empty, and they have problems getting people out at the closing time.
With foreigners bringing in a considerable amount of revenue, Turkey is organising a new development agency. One of their goals will be to achieve the 2023 vision plan that will place Istanbul in at least position 3 of the most visited destinations in the world.
If they achieve 2019’s goals, they will rank in at the tenth position, so there is lots of work to do to match the likes of other major cities dominating the lists like Paris.
As well as focusing on other niches, one way they plan to boost visitors stats is to improve cruise ship infrastructures. Galataport, set to open in March 2020, is expected to host hundreds of cruise ships every year, and with average passenger counts of 4000 people, this will generate millions in foreign revenue.
For 2019, the city will host 20,000 passengers on 30 cruise ships. By the time Galataport opens, expectations are that it will host 80 cruise ships, with an average of 250,000 tourists.
They have also set the Yenikapi coastal district for cruise stardom when a new tender held at the end of the year, is expected to generate much interest.
Industry insiders also say there is potential to become a top 5 leader in event tourism for business, culture, arts, and wedding niches. This is of importance as records show the average tourist spends $650, while those attending events can spend upwards of $2,500.
For the latter half of 2019, 18 international conventions including the Gastroenterology World Congress, and International Geographical Congress will host 14,222 foreigners.
Meanwhile, a growing trend sees more Indians descending on the city for weddings, while Russians prefer to travel for birthdays and anniversaries.
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