Turkish tourism professionals aim to cut the current account deficit by 50 percent this year by increasing tourist numbers to 40 million and tourism revenues to $32 billion.
Association of Turkish Travel Agencies (TÜRSAB) Chairman Firuz Bağlıkaya said the tourism sector is one of the leading sectors contributing to the reduction of the current account deficit, adding that the sector contributed $21 billion to the current deficit reduction last year.
Bağlıkaya said the tourism sector will further increase its contribution to the reduction of the current account deficit each passing year, noting that fluctuations in the exchange rate cannot change this.
Bağlıkaya said they welcomed the plans for China in the 100-day action program announced by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, stressing that China is an important market that sends the largest number of tourists abroad with the highest per capita spending. "Therefore, China is an important market. You know, it is ‘Turkey Year' in China. There is a situation that is developing with some initiatives from the Culture and Tourism Ministry as well as the Association of Turkish Travel Agencies, negotiations with the opposing institutions, decisions taken and actions," Bağlıkaya said.
Explaining that the association aims to increase the number of tourists coming from China, Bağlıkaya said the increase in the number of tourists so far this year is about 97 percent. "Therefore, this will continue exponentially, and we plan to complete the year with a figure of 500,000. In the upcoming years, we will do our best to increase the number of Chinese tourists to 2 million," he continued. "There are some problems in this regard. Our government and minister are already aware of the situation. So, they will be resolved as soon as possible. I hope we will reach our targets."
Pointing to the increase in the number of visitors, Bağlıkaya said they have been speaking of the target of 40 million tourists since last November. "Forty million tourists and $32 billion in revenue is a reasonable objective for the end of 2018. From the upcoming years, we anticipate gradual increases in prices and per capita spending every year," he emphasized.
Expressing that congress, sports, health, cruise and culture tourism is fastidious, Bağlıkaya said the segments with high average expenditures have not returned yet, but they will gradually be commissioned.
Bağlıkaya said congress tourism will further revive in 2020, and cruise tourism will see an increase in the number of cruise ships docking at Turkish ports, particularly in 2020 and 2021. Bağlıkaya underlined that Turkey's potential is well-known. "We have reached these figures before. We will see them again. There is no need to worry," he added, recalling that they exceeded the former figures in Germany, the U.K. and Central Europe. "If we continued at the same pace, we could have reached other goals at this point; but by 2016, these figures were almost at the bottom. We are slowly recovering. Turkey is an important destination for European tourists. This is not a destination to give up on," he said in conclusion.