After a staggering year in 2016, particularly due to losses in the Russian market after the jet-downing crisis in November 2015, Turkish tourism saw a revival this year and, according to sector representatives, revenue is expected to increase to $25 billion.
Başaran Ulusoy, the chairman of the Association of Turkish Travel Agencies (TÜRSAB), said they expect the country's tourism revenue to be around $25 billion this year compared to $22 billion in 2016, according to data from the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat).
Ulusoy told Anadolu Agency (AA) that the 2017 tourism season went well compared to 2016, saying, however, that 2014 and 2015 figures have yet to be surpassed.
"Despite all the negativities, we will still complete this year honorably as Turkish tourism representatives," Ulusoy said. "We are currently in the 10th month of the year and there are two more months ahead. This year, the tourism industry will exceed 2016 figures in terms of foreign exchange inflow in tourism, but we cannot catch the 2015 figures. For this reason, we are exerting extensive efforts as tourism representatives of Turkey."
Ulusoy said that foreign visitors come to Turkey to see things that they do not have in their own countries, and that they want to see Turkish food, cuisine and gastronomy. "Tourists come to see the depths of history and experience Turkish culture and folklore," he said.
Ulusoy recalled that last year, the largest amount of foreign exchange to Turkey was brought by Germany as well as tourists from the U.S. and countries in the Far East and elsewhere in Asia, in terms of per capita spending.
"U.S. citizens have led the way in tourism spending per person in recent years. Subsequently, the spending levels of those from distant destinations such as China, Japan and South Korea have increased," Ulusoy said. "Turkey predominantly generates revenue from cultural tours. Germany, the U.S. and Russia visit our country and primarily choose culture tours."
Evaluating the effects of the mutual suspension of visa services between Turkey and the U.S., Ulusoy said: "I do not think there will be a problem in the number of American tourists coming to this country in the wake of the visa crisis. Despite the political turmoil, things will improve soon. Turkey did not deserve this. I would not expect that from a friendly country."
Meanwhile, domestic tourism revenue was $31 billion in 2015 and $34 billion in 2014. The latter was a peak year for tourism.