Başaran Ulusoy, the chairman of the Association of Turkish Travel Agencies (TÜRSAB), stated on Tuesday that the first data received from the European market with the early booking habits maintain a positive course.
"I can say that we expect double-digit growth in the number of foreign visitors arriving in Turkey in 2018 in this context," the TÜRSAB chairman said.
He recalled that the tourism sector closed 2016 with a decrease of 30 percent in the number of visitors and 29 percent in revenue. Yet, Ulusoy added that last year the number of tourists and tourism revenue returned to its positive course.
The chairman said the return of the Russian market made a very important contribution to the positive data in the tourism sector in 2017. He informed that the number of foreign visitors arriving in Turkey in 2017 increased by 27.84 percent compared to the previous year, reaching around 32.4 million, according to data from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. He also stressed that with the return of the Russian market in 2017, Russia again rose to its position as Turkey's biggest market.
Ulusoy also pointed to an increase in the number of visitors from countries such as Iraq, Iran, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Saudi Arabia, Romania, Georgia, Bulgaria, Greece, France and Belgium. He added that in 2017, major markets such as the Netherlands, Germany and the U.K. experienced a decline, while tourism income increased by 18.89 percent compared to the previous year, reaching $26.3 billion.
Explaining that they expect the growth in tourism to continue this year, the TÜRSAB head said that both the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and the private sector ran very important promotion and marketing activities. He said that they intend to increase the number of tourists coming from high-tourism markets with great potential such as China, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, South Korea and Japan in 2018.
Ulusoy reminded that the number of foreign tourists visiting Turkey in June-July-August period covering the 2017 summer season stood at 13.2 million, suggesting that in summer 2018, the number of foreign visitors to Turkey is estimated to reach around 14-15 million.