From January to October, Turkey hosted more than 29 million foreign visitors with a 28 percent increase compared to the same period last year, which saw around 22 million foreign tourists. Moreover, 11.8 million of those visitors came from European countries, including members and non-members of the European Union. Based on last year's promising recovery, sector representatives are now anticipating a considerable rise in the number of European tourists in 2018. The spokesman for the Platform of Tour Operators, Cem Polatoğlu, highlighted that the tourism sector in Turkey is not limited to the summer season and is vibrant year-round.
Despite a relatively low number of European tourists in 2016 and 2017, Polatoğlu said, "Regarding the reservations made for 2018, we expect a significant increase in the number of European tourists."
With its long, sandy beaches and winter facilities, Turkey offers vacation opportunities throughout the year, making it an attractive option for foreign visitors, the spokesman pointed out.
"For the last two seasons, we were not able to achieve the desired number of European tourists," Polatoğlu said. "However, 2018 is expected to see a large increase - with Germans, Greeks, Dutch and Italians have already started making reservations for next year."
"We are about to see a far better season this summer compared to the last. European tourists have started preferring Turkey once again as a vacation spot," he added.
Noting that the number of British tourists is expected to increase from last season, Polatoğlu said the cruise tours that were canceled in 2017 due to various reasons have started taking reservations for 2018.
Recalling that the number of Russian tourists that came to Turkey before the jet-downing crisis in November 2015 was 4.5 million, he remarked, "After overcoming the crisis, the number of Russian visitors exceeded 3.5 million in 2017, and I believe this number will exceed 4.5 million in 2018. The current reservations prove this."
Moreover, Turkish Hoteliers Federation (TÜROFED) Chairman Osman Ayık underlined that the number of foreign tourists that visited Turkey from January to October saw a 28 percent increase compared to last year.
"With the decisions made during the Tourism Council meeting last month, the number of tourists and tourism revenue will gradually increase in the upcoming period and is expected to catch up to its previous levels," Ayık said.
He highlighted that the country's tourism industry experienced significant recovery this year, and the numbers are also promising for the period to come.
"The number of Russian visitors hosted this season exceeded our expectations, and we saw some recovery in the German market toward the end of the season. However, flight frequency could not meet the demand. Still, around 3 million German tourists came to Turkey," the TÜROFED chair said.
An important feature of the German market is that it has the potential to revive other European markets, Ayık said while emphasizing the necessity to concentrate on the market. Recalling that tourism revenue in the first nine months of the year totaled over $20 billion, he expressed the sector's aim to exceed this figure, and therefore the sector targets high-income tourists.As is generally the case, Antalya hosted the highest number of tourists in Turkey, followed by Istanbul, he noted. Foreign tourists generally prefer the Mediterranean and Aegean coasts for vacations.
As long as the country's political and economic stability remains secure, people are more comfortable about going on vacation abroad, he said. "We expect a higher number of tourists next year because both the private sector, and the Ministry of Tourism and Culture are working hard to accomplish that goal," he added. Currently, the number of tourists visiting Turkey stands around 29 million and the sector expects to reach 35 million next year.