Encouraged by the New Economic Program (NEP) announced by Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak, tourism professionals have focused on activities that will boost revenue.
In addition to opening up to alternative markets such as India and Japan, the program also aims to increase tourists and tourism revenue through market diversification.
Firuz Bağlıkaya, chairman of the Association of Turkish Travel Agencies (TÜRSAB), said that they would concentrate on markets with high-spending potential.
Highlighting that their primary objective was to reinstate the number of tourists lost in 2016, Bağlıkaya stated, "In this context, quite pertinent incentives were provided. We have come to receive a recompense for these incentives given the 40 million tourists we will be attracting this year."
Underlining that revenue-increasing steps will be taken, Bağlıkaya said, "As stated in the NEP, we are focusing on markets with high income and spending capacity, such as China, India, South Korea and Japan. Rich tourists are a bit fastidious. The security issue, the biggest problem with this tourist profile, has been resolved. With the new airport, we will overcome the congestion in Atatürk International Airport. There will be significant capacity increase in these destinations."
Emphasizing that the expected mobilization in congress tourism has not been achieved, Bağlıkaya noted that incentives should be concentrated on such segments. He said it would be wrong to remove incentives if the target of attracting 40 million tourists has been achieved.
"In particular, we need to support congress tourism. While VAT is refunded in congress tourism anywhere in the world, it is not done in Turkey. We have difficulty competing with other countries. So, we need a legal regulation. We would not lose anything if we encourage a congress tourist, who spends an average of $2,000, by refunding VAT of some 150-200 euros," he said.
Turkey hosted some 27 million foreign visitors from January to August this year, according to the Culture and Tourism Ministry. The number of foreign visitors in the eight-month period recorded an annual hike of 22.9 percent, up from 21.9 million in the same period last year.
With regards to the nationalities of foreign visitors over the same period, Russia was the top country with 4.18 million visitors, accounting for 15.5 percent of all foreign visitors, followed by Germany with 2.97 million visitors, the U.K. with 1.57 million visitors, Iran with 1.51 million visitors and Georgia with 1.44 million visitors.
According to official figures, 32.4 million foreigners visited Turkey last year, while the number of arriving foreigners was 25.3 million in 2016. Turkey's tourism income in the first half of this year also exceeded $11 billion.
The government has set a target of 40 million tourists and $40 billion in tourism revenue this year.
Turkey has targets of 50 million tourists and $50 billion in tourism income by 2023, according to private sector representatives and officials.
TÜRSAB Chairman Bağlıkaya indicated that the number of tourists will also rise with the revenue-increasing steps.
"We have released a supplement to introduce Turkey in Japan. At the beginning of November, we will be hosting 200 Indian tour operators for wedding tourism. We are trying to do our part," he said.
The comprehensive international workshop that will be held in November in Istanbul and extend to Antalya will be organized in order to boost the rapidly developing "wedding tourism" sector in Turkey.
At the "Luxury MICE Workshop" event to be held by TravelShop Turkey & Murtis Tour, which is affiliated with TÜRSAB, from Nov. 18-21, leading wedding tourism companies from around the world will hold B2B meetings with their Turkish counterparts.
Twenty countries from all over the world have so far registered to attend the event.
International buyers and sellers in the field of wedding tourism will be brought together in this event, which will include 50 of the most important wedding planners of India.