Turkey has hosted around 32 million foreign tourists in the first three quarters of this year with a 23 percent increase, Culture and Tourism Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy said.
"It looks like we will pass 40 million [tourists] and break Turkey's record," Ersoy told Anadolu Agency's Editor's Desk on Wednesday.
In the first nine months of this year, Turkey hosted a total of 37 million visitors, including Turkish expats, from abroad, according to Ersoy. The number of visitors from January to September rose 21.4 percent year-on-year.
Noting that there was an increase in the number of tourists, Ersoy said the tourism sector has experienced a rapid recovery.
Ersoy said apart from the common tourists enjoying the "sea, sand and sun," tourists interested in culture also started to visit Turkey.
Russia led the way among nations in the first nine months of this year as 5.12 million Russians visited Turkey, a 16.1 percent year-on-year increase. It was followed by Germany with 3.6 million visitors, the U.K. with 1.9 million, Bulgaria with 1.7 million and Iran with 1.69 million visitors.
The Mediterranean resort city of Antalya welcomed the highest number of foreign visitors with nearly 11 million from January to September. Istanbul was the second popular destination among all cities in Turkey with 10.1 million visitors during the same period.
Meanwhile, Turkey's total tourism income increased by 1 percent year-on-year in the third quarter of 2018, reaching $11.5 billion, Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat) said.
The report showed that 81.1 percent of tourism revenue, excluding GSM roaming and marina service expenditures, came from foreign visitors and the rest from Turkish citizens living abroad.
Turkey welcomed nearly 18.8 million tourists in the third quarter of this year, an increase of 12.7 percent from the same quarter in 2017. Some 84.7 percent of that number, or 15.9 million people, were foreign tourists.
Average expenditure of the visitors stood at $612 per capita, the statistical body reported.
"In this quarter, while average expenditure of the foreigners was $589 per capita, average expenditure of the Turkish citizens resident abroad was $724 per capita," it said.
Turkstat said visitors spent the most on food and beverages, accommodation, and transport between July and September.
Foreign visitors spent over $904 million on shoes and clothes and $354 million on souvenirs in addition to $23.9 million on carpets and rugs.
The primary reason for foreign visitors' trips — 57.5 percent — was "travel, entertainment, sports and cultural activities," followed by "visiting relatives and friends" — 9.9 percent. According to TurkStat, their top accommodation choice was hotel/motel/pension.
The number of Turkish citizens traveling abroad in the quarter decreased by 9.9 percent over the same period last year, declining to 2.27 million.