A frequent destination for Iranian tourists, Turkey's eastern Van province saw a record number of visitors from the country in 2017. The city welcomed 424,432 Iranian visitors in 2017, which marked a two-fold increase compared to previous years, according to data obtained from Van's governor's office. Before the new year, a total of 26,748 Iranian tourists arrived in Van.
Van Governor Murat Zorluoğlu said 424,432 Iranian tourists is a record high for the city, emphasizing that recent years saw an upward trend in their number. The governor added that Van hosted 145,461 visitors from Iran in 2015 and 222,159 visitors in 2016.
"To increase these figures further, we are conducting projects within public-private partnerships. For example, tourism agencies in Van will soon participate in an international tourism fair in Tehran with the Eastern Anatolia Development Agency's support," Governor Zorluoğlu said.
Ahead of the new year, Van continued to welcome Iranian visitors. On Dec. 26, 2017 748 Iranians came to the city and shopped and visited cultural heritage areas. During that period, the hotels in the city were almost fully occupied by Iranian tourists.The peaceful and secure environment in the region is closely followed by Iran and plays a significant role in their preference for the city as a holiday destination. In addition to being a tourist destination for Iranians, businesspeople also visit the city.
Although no concrete data exists indicating that the protests in Iran have affected the number of visitors from the country to Van, a decline in entries and departures occurred after the outbreak of street protests in Iran. On Dec. 30, 2017, 769 Iranians entered Turkey from the Kapıköy Border Gate, while 511 Iranian citizens did so on Jan. 1, 2018. The decrease has been construed as a direct impact of the protests and turmoil in the country.