Turkey hosted 1.6 million Iranian tourists last year despite the previous problems with charter flights and aims to reach 2 million this year, particularly with the approval for additional charter flights announced early in March.
According to a statement released by the Hotel Association of Turkey (TÜROB), the association prepared a conclusive report titled, "TÜROB TITE Tehran Tourism Fair," after the high demand Iran showed for the post-TITE Iran International Tourism Fair and the Nowruz Festival.
Suggesting that the goal is achievable, unless tension emerges between the two countries politically, the report noted that Iran may be the biggest tourism market this year, considering the demand from Iran prior to the Nowruz Festival.
It is stated in the report that the number of tourists coming from Iran in the first month of this year increased by 10 percent to 101,000 people compared to the same month of last year, putting Iran among the rare markets in which tourism has risen. This is a positive sign for the end of the year, according to the report. This goal does not seem very far away unless a political tension occurs. Turkey is the third most popular country among Iranians after Dubai and Malaysia, the report noted, pointing out that Iranians like Turkey for its shopping and sea-sand-sun holiday destinations, while Armenia and the U.S. are the two other leading destinations for Iranians.
The report also informed that Turkey is an important transit point for Iranians on their travels to the U.S. Those who come for shopping mostly prefer Istanbul, while those who come for the sun prefer Antalya. Recently, interest in Bodrum and Marmaris has started to increase, as well.
Stressing that Iran has become one of the leading tourism markets for Turkey due to its cultural, geographical and historical proximity, the report said that especially for a country under certain restrictions from the administrative side, Turkey stands out as an important destination with its diversity of tourism products and its structure as a democratic Muslim country.
The report also added that the fact that Turkish airline companies, especially Turkish Airlines (THY), have direct flights to Isfahan, Tabriz, Shiraz, Mashhad, Ahvaz and Kermanshah as well as Tehran, contributes to tourism relations between Turkey and Iran. The number of Iranian tourists who went abroad during the 2011-2012 period, when the Iranian riyal depreciated, decreased by 37 percent, while in 2014, when the Iranian riyal was maintaining a steady course, the number of Iranian tourists who went abroad increased. The report underlined that these two examples show how much tourism depends on the exchange rates. Iran ranked 12th in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region and 97th among 141 countries in the 2015 Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index published by the World Economic Forum. The fact that Iran's security index is higher than Turkey's security index in the same report has also drawn attention.
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