Congress tourism sees revival in 2018


After the increase in outsourced early bookings in tourism, the congress organizations have also begun to come back to Turkey. Following an increase of 80 percent in early reservations, more good news came from congress tourism. The impact of European tourists' turning to Turkey once again has been immediately reflected in congresses and meetings. For example, the European Congress of Immunology (ECI), an important medical congresses planned for this year after having been canceled in 2016, has chosen Istanbul again for the installment to be held three years later. It is stated that 2018 may be the year of rebirth in this sector. Returns in corporate meetings have increased significantly. While the number of small-scale international congresses have increased, especially in Istanbul, the projects for the return of the big congresses have been accelerated under the auspicious of the Culture and Tourism Ministry.

Turkey's Meetings, Incentives, Conventions, and Events (MICE) industry, which has a volume of approximately $6 billion, began to grow again after two years. The hopes of tourism professionals, who underline the fact that the plans for congress tourism are made in advance, had been postponed until 2019.

According to the information provided by the Turkish daily Dünya, the ECI chose Istanbul once again for the installment to be held three years later. Istanbul had lost the ECI, one of the major medical congresses planned for 2018, to Amsterdam in 2016. While Istanbul was seventh in the world rankings with the congresses it received in 2010, it fell to 39th place in 2016. Projects have been accelerated to get to the top 10 again.

Noting that there is an increase in small-scale international congresses, Association of Turkish Travel Agencies (TÜRSAB) Secretary-General Çetin Gürcün said big international congresses are also "opening the door," adding that the increase in demand for European tourists will also bring along the increase in demand at congresses and meetings.

"Big congresses are planned at least two years in advance. For this reason, we will not continue to record losses even if there is no demand burst. The talks have begun to resume after the improvement in Turkey's image, which was stood away last year," Gürcün said.

Turkey's Event, Meeting and Congress Industry Managers Association (TETKİD) Chairman Volkan Ataman said they received great return signals in congresses. "Especially at corporate promotion meetings as well as group meetings, there is a serious turnaround. The market is growing again. With the return signals of major international congresses, Istanbul again targets the top 10," Ataman said.

Hilton Turkey's General Manager Armin Zerunyan said they learned last week that Istanbul was chosen for the World Congress of Phlebology, an important medical congress planned to be held in 2021. "It has been the most positive news we have received on this issue for a long time. We see that Istanbul is taken into consideration once again," Zerunyan added.

The ACE of MICE Exhibition by Turkish Airlines opened its doors for the fifth time this year in Istanbul. At this year's fair, which has attracted more foreign visitors, 21 of the strongest purchasing group coordinators in the world, and media partners and 200 buyers from 40 countries will be able to cooperate with Turkish companies on an average of 10 business-to-business (B2B) meetings per day. Organization companies from European and Middle East countries, as well as the U.S., Canada, Argentina, India, China, and Russia, will hold the necessary talks to make organizations in Turkey at this fair. Volkan Ataman, president of TETKİD and Tourism Media Group, also added that they expect more than 15,000 professional visitors during the three-day event.

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