The wedding and congress tourism sector of Turkey, which had a stagnant year due to the coronavirus pandemic, has started receiving reservations for 2021, harbingering a promising new season.
Necip Fuat Ersoy, the managing partner of the International Meeting and Wedding Tourism Forum, told Anadolu Agency (AA) Sunday that they did not have a bright year due to the restrictions on travel and the lack of crowded events; however, things are about to change.
He said that the country, which welcomed large numbers of tourists despite the pandemic, was also able to host a small number of business meetings and weddings with necessary safety measures.
Stating that they think 2021 will be better than 2020 as the industry has begun bouncing back, Ersoy said: "We are hopeful for the next year. We receive offers and requests, especially for April and May.”
“There is dynamism especially in Indian and Russian markets,” he said.
Ersoy noted that wedding tourism is a priority when considering the Indian market, and business tourism is the priority for the Russian market.
Ersoy added that, apart from those two, they are also in search of new markets.
Turkey's resort city of Antalya, a frequent favorite with Indian couples looking to tie the knot in lavish, million-dollar wedding ceremonies, is once again looking to welcome couples as coronavirus restrictions are eased.
India, one of the two countries in the world with a population of more than 1 billion, ranks second in group events after the U.S. and first in wedding tourism. The expenses of these extravagant weddings range from $500,000 (TL 3.83 million) to hundreds of millions of dollars.
Turkey has made progress in claiming a share of the $50 million Indian wedding industry over the last two years.
Turkey hosted $32 million worth of Indian weddings throughout 2019, making it a record year for the number of lavish Indian weddings in the country.
Meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) are also seen by industry representatives as the most effective way to increase Turkey's tourism, which enjoyed a buoyant period before the pandemic.
According to World Tourism Organization data, the MICE tourism sector, which accounts for 30% of tourism revenues, is one of the determinants of tourism revenues in Turkey.
According to the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat), the number of foreigners coming to Turkey for business purposes was almost 2 million in 2018. Revenue obtained from those visitors rose by 5% to over $1.6 billion. Revenue obtained from visitors for congresses and meetings accounts for about 6% of Turkey's total tourism revenues.
Ersoy added that the Safe Tourism Certificate Program kicked off by Turkey at the beginning of the pandemic also contributed to the resiliency of the sector, noting that the template and standards for hotels and transfer vehicles in the program build confidence among tourists and businesspeople.
Emphasizing that they gained new experiences with COVID-19, Ersoy noted that measures were taken from the very beginning in the sector with the government cooperation.
“We had no experience, we struggled, but we learned a lot,” he said, noting the country has a very good reputation in the world, and that the successful labor and works in the country will again turn into revenue for the sector.
“We think that we manage the pandemic process better than many countries,” he added.