Tourists from Gulf flock to Istanbul

BETÜL ALAKENT
ISTANBUL
Published

A tourist influx from the Gulf countries to Istanbul, which remains unaffected by the Gulf rift as tourists from the region continue coming from the city, has been witnessed. Hotels have been fully occupied thanks to the influence of Arab tourists for the last three weeks and prices have gone up by 25 percent. The occupancy rate of 2012 was reached again.

Tourism in Istanbul, which was seriously wounded due to last year's terrorist attacks and treacherous coup attempt, is recovering fast in 2017. It has become nearly impossible to find accommodation in the city for the last three weeks because of Arab tourists' great interest. Tourism professionals who were anxious after the Qatar crisis are happy now since the greatest tourist influx is from the Gulf countries. Expressing that 25 percent of Arab tourists are from Iran and 75 percent of them are from Gulf countries, tourism professionals also said Saudi Arabia is the country sending most tourists to Istanbul followed by Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and Bahrain. Moreover, according to the tourism professionals' reports, improving occupancy rates are increasing prices by an average of 25 percent.

Timur Bayındır, the chairman of the Hotels Association of Turkey (TÜROB), said high occupancy rates were reached thanks to tourists coming from Iran and the Gulf countries in July and August. Stating that besides the Gulf countries' citizens, Algerian and Libyan tourists also contributed to these rates, Bayındır said, "These countries' people are given an e-visa at the country's gate, which made it easier for them to come." Running two hotels in Taksim, Ünsan Şınık, the general manager of Elite World Hotels, informed that the occupancy rates of the hotels were nearly full. Explaining that the hotels were occupied by Arab tourists, Şınık also announced that Saudi Arabia ranks first among the Gulf countries and said "room prices have increased by 20-30 percent compared to last year."

Muhannad Qarashuli, the CEO of Valley of Tourism, one of the biggest tour operators in Middle East, said all of the hotels were full during the bayram holidays. Explaining that "all Gulf countries' people apart from the United Arab Emirates came to Istanbul," Qarashuli expressed that the Qatar Crisis has not influenced the sector that much. Qarashuli went on to explain that "our partners from Qatar say the most favorite destinations in their country are Istanbul and London."

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