With aims of developing market diversity in the tourism industry, Turkey is focusing on India, a country that sends 22 million tourists abroad annually. The congress of the Travel Agents Federation of India (TAFI), which carries 80 percent of Indian tourists, is being held in Turkey from Oct. 27-31 with the support of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
A total of 650 Indian agents, each carrying at least 10,000 tourists abroad, gathered at the Hilton Dalaman Sarigerme where the congress is being held.
The fact that 18 million Indian tourists, who go abroad every year, travel with TAFI member agents increased the attention given to the gathering.
Culture and Tourism Minister Numan Kurtulmuş attended the meeting that was organized by the Turkish Indian Tourism Council (TITC) and the Dalaman, Ortaca and Köyceğiz Association of Touristic Hoteliers and Tourism Operators (DOKTOB). Kurtulmuş said that opening up to new markets is considered as a strategic vision in Turkey, stressing that India especially is a potential country with a middle-class population of 350 million.
He added that the Turkey-India Joint Working Group will convene in Turkey next year and steps will be taken to further develop relations between the two countries.
Meanwhile, TAFI President Praveen Chuch said, "Our goal in coming here is to increase the number of tourists coming from India to Turkey."
On the other hand, TITC President Emin Çakmak recalled that 80,000 Indians came to Turkey last year, noting, "We will close this year with similar figures."
Çakmak added that in 2018 they aim to bring in 200,000 Indian tourists, increasing the number nearly two-and-a-half-fold.
"In 2023, we plan to increase this number to 2 million," he asserted.
DOKTOB Vice-President and Hilton Dalaman Sarigerme Resort & SPA General Manager Tunç Batum also chimed in, saying, "We think that the charter issue will be resolved in the near future. We want slots to be given to aircraft flying to Turkey and our aim is to arrange direct flights."
Indian tourists travel to Turkey for a wide range of purposes ranging from weddings to film tourism and from culture to nature. They travel the most during the March-April and October-November periods, also known as the "dead season."
Indian tourists spend an average of 1,500 to 2,000 euros per person during their stays in Turkey.
Speaking to journalists in Muğla regarding the tourism representatives' request for support in charter flights, Minister Kurtulmuş said they have reached the final stage of the project on tourism incentive package.
"With this package, we plan to provide charter support to tourists from different regions. We will also support agencies that bring tourists during the slow seasons, to spread tourism across 12 months. We will submit this project to the Council of Ministers," he concluded.