Tourism is one of the fastest growing sectors in the world. The number of international travelers surged to 1.184 billion in 2015 from around 25 million in the 1950s. All projections indicate that the growth of the tourist industry will continue to increase in the upcoming years. The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) estimates that the number of international travelers will reach 1.8 billion by 2030.
Turkey takes the lead among countries contributing to this growth in global tourism. Despite the various negative factors that have occurred outside of the sector, conjuncture-related fluctuations and political crises, tourism in Turkey has maintained its rapid growth trend over the past decade. As one of the countries that have achieved the most rapid growth in tourism in this period, Turkey has continuously moved further and secured a rank among the top-10 countries in the world. According to UNWTO data, Turkey ranked sixth in tourist arrivals and 12th in tourism revenue in the world in 2014.
Antalya has played one of the greatest roles in Turkey's success. With its natural beauty, historical heritage, rich cultural values and advanced tourist industry, the city attracts 10 million foreign visitors, which makes it a shining star and the emerging destination not only of Turkey, but also for the entire Mediterranean basin.
Expo 2016 Antalya is an event that will prove Antalya's success in the tourism industry, as it offers not only magnificent sea and beaches, but also its unusually rich nature. Turkey is one of the most important countries in the temperate zone of land that possesses rich and interesting flora and fauna. Today, Turkey has more than 10,000 types of flowering plants in the country, making it a vegetal paradise. A total of 3,000 out of these 10,000 plants are endemic, which means they do not grow anywhere else in the world. EXPO 2016 will, therefore, have a very significant mission in introducing these gems of Turkey to the world.
Because botanic expos have in the past made major contributions to the countries that held them, EXPO 2016 will greatly benefit the national economy in addition to the boost it will give to Antalya's tourism. First held in Rotterdam in 1960, the World Botanical EXPO displays a country's botanical diversity and enables it to become an international center in the fields of environment, botany and organic agriculture. So we believe that EXPO 2016 presents an important chance for Turkey to evaluate its botanical richness in a more effective and comprehensive way.
The "Flowers and Children" theme of EXPO 2016 also has a special message. With this theme, EXPO 2016 will allow Turkey to display its rich flora and fauna to the world and reveal a vision of living in peace with nature to the world and the children to whom we entrust our future. I extend my thanks to all institutions and organizations contributing to EXPO 2016 and wish the event to be beneficial for our country.
* Association of Turkish Travel Agencies (TÜRSAB) President