Turkey’s metropolis is being packed with foreign tourists as arrivals in June topped pre-pandemic levels and more than doubled from a year ago, in a much-sought rebound from a coronavirus-driven slump.
Dominated by arrivals from Europe and the U.S., the number of foreign visitors in Istanbul surged nearly 115% in June to over 1.47 million, data from the provincial culture and tourism directorate showed Tuesday.
The figure more than doubled compared to 684,621 arrivals in June of last year. It also topped the levels seen before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. Some 1.1 million and 1.36 million foreign tourists visited Istanbul in the same months of 2018 and 2019, respectively.
Arrivals had dropped to as low as 66,725 in June of 2020 due to tight restrictions to curb the spread of the outbreak.
The number of foreign visitors in the January-June period of this year soared to more than 6.75 million, the data showed.
Known as a destination where Europe meets Asia that has long captivated visitors with its culture, art and history, Istanbul is seeing a significant increase in the number of foreigners arriving for shopping and health tourism.
Tourists from Germany topped the list among nations in June with 126,507 arrivals, followed by 117,169 arrivals from Russia, 99,115 from Iran, 96,604 from the United States and 59,901 arrivals from the United Kingdom, the data showed.
Among others, some 48,142 French citizens visited Istanbul in June, in addition to around 45,000 Iraqis, 40,057 Kuwaitis, 36,290 Uzbekistani and 33,417 Jordanians.
Some 28,935 tourists arrived from Israel, around 25,443 from the Netherlands and 25,180 from Italy.
According to a World Travel & Tourism Council report, Turkey is set to be the fourth most popular European destination this summer.
Turkey's tourism revenues nearly tripled in the second quarter while first-half foreign visitor numbers surged close to 2019 levels, according to official data.
Revenues surged 190% from a year earlier to $8.72 billion in the April-June period. In June, the number of foreign visitors arriving in the country leapt 145% from a year earlier to 5.02 million, with first-half numbers hitting 16.37 million, up 186% from a year ago, the Culture and Tourism Ministry said last week.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Monday said Turkey aimed for $37 billion in tourism revenues and attracting 47 million tourists this year, raising the targets from $35 billion and 45 million.
Officials had hoped tourism this year could replicate or exceed the numbers from 2019, when some 52 million visitors brought in $34 billion in revenue.
In 2021, tourism revenues doubled to almost $25 billion, recovering from the worst of the COVID-19 impact, but remaining well below the level recorded in 2019.
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