Turkey saw a huge 166 percent-increase in shopping by Chinese tourists in the first quarter of 2018, according to Global Blue, which handles "tax-free shopping" transactions in more than 51 countries.
The company said, Chinese tourists make up for more than 40 percent of global tax-free sales. As for Turkey the uptick was related to China's declaration of 2018 as "Turkey Tourism Year."
At the launching last year, Culture and Tourism Minister Numan Kurtulmuş said more than 250,000 Chinese tourists visited Turkey in 2017. That number was expected to reach 500,000 in 2018.
The effect of "Turkey Tourism Year" is already being felt as there seems to be an increase both in the number of Chinese tourists to Turkey during the first months of this year and in their expenditure compared to previous years.According to Global Blue's Turkey data, foreign visitors coming to Turkey in the first quarter of 2018 spent a total of TL 350 million ($85.85 million).
The foreign visitors got a VAT refund of around TL 193 million, by completing tax-free transactions. Compared to the first quarter of 2017, shopping by foreign visitors has increased by some 33 percent.
Chinese shoppers were responsible for the highest increase in spending in Turkey during the first quarter of this year. The Chinese applied for VAT refunds for about TL 10 million against their expenditures in the country in the first quarter of last year, while this figure reached TL 26 million in the same period of this year. The average amount of spending by Chinese tourists also climbed to TL 3,238.
They were followed by U.K. citizens with an increase of 83 percent in spending. The average amount of money spent by U.K. citizens stood at TL 8,123.
These two countries were followed by Qatar with 60 percent, Saudi Arabia with 40 percent, Germany with 34 percent, the Russian Federation with 32 percent, Azerbaijan with 30 percent and Iran with 26 percent.
Speaking with regards to the tax-free shopping in Turkey, Global Blue Turkey General Manager Selim Şeyhun said the Chinese, as they had previously predicted, rose to first place last year.
"The Chinese closed the first three months with a growth rate of 166 percent, while 14 percent of total tax-free sales came from the Chinese. In 2017, 7 percent and in 2016, 4 percent of the total amount came from the Chinese," he continued. "The share of the Chinese in the tax-free market in the world is over 40 percent, and there is still distance our country needs to cover in this regard."