Istanbul welcomed a record 9 million visitors in 2012, a new all-time high and a 16 percent increase over 2011.
Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city, and Antalya, the heart of the sun-and-sea tourism in the country attract some 80 percent of tourists to Turkey despite ongoing efforts to diversify destinations.
Despite ongoing efforts to diversify tourism in terms of both geography and content, Turkey’s two traditional tourist destinations, Istanbul and Antalya, still dominate the sector with some 80 percent of foreign visitors.
Istanbul hosted over nine million tourists last year, a 16 percent increase from the period between 2011 and 2012, and Antalya hosted over 10 million tourists, a 1.6 percent decrease. The two cities took almost 20 million of the roughly 25 million foreign tourists that visited Turkey.
German tourists comprised the highest share of total tourists both in Istanbul, with 1.7 million, and Antalya, with 2.6 million, followed by Russians and Americans.
The tourism ministry and sector organizations are struggling to broaden the country’s conventional, religious and health tourism appeal in a bid to cut risks and maintain sustainable revenues.
The all-inclusive system at hotels in Antalya is one of the main factors that brings foreign tourists to the city. However, the system decreases expenses for tourists, in turn lowering local tourism revenue.
The target of 2013 should be to raise tourism income along with tourist numbers, according to statements made by Zafer Alkaya, General Manager of Cornelia Diamond Golf Resort and Spa, during an Istanbul meeting yesterday.
“Turkey needs tourists who spend money. Average spending decreased by between 3 to 6 percent from 2011 to 2012. Despite Antalya being the most successful region with an all-inclusive system in the world, this causes expenses to decrease,” he said.
Tourists in Istanbul hail from a diverse background, including Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Iran, Holland, Iraq, Libya, Azerbaijan, Spain, Ukraine, Japan and Saudi Arabia. Visitors from Arab countries showed more interest in Istanbul last year than in 2011, and their numbers reached 1.3 million in a 54 percent increase in 2012.
Antalya also draws the attention of tourists from many countries, such as Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Azerbaijan, Croatia, Spain, Japan, Latvia, Moldavia, Norway, Uzbekistan, Slovenia, Turkmenistan, Australia, Finland, Iran, Italy, Iceland, Turkish Cyprus, Canada, Kyrgyzstan, Poland, Slovenia, Syria and Greece. Kyrgyz tourist numbers increased the most last year, growing 19 percent.