Since China's declaration of 2018 as "Turkey Tourism Year," a great number of Chinese tourists have made their way to Turkey this year.
The figures so far show that this year has been a very successful in terms of the number of Chinese tourists arriving in Turkey, according to Culture and Tourism Minister Mehmet Ersoy, who said the country saw an increase of 46 percent in the number of Chinese tourists last year, while it expects to close this year with 400,000 tourists, an 80 percent raise.
Ersoy's remarks came on the sidelines of his visit to China, during which he held official talks, attended a number of events and met his Chinese counterpart Luo Shugang.
Within the scope of the 2018 Turkey Tourism Year in China, Turkey has carried out various advertising activities, introduced Turkish cuisine during a number of events and held various other cultural exhibitions, during which the country saw great interest from Chinese tourists.
Ersoy stressed that this year, celebrated as Turkey Tourism Year in China, has greatly benefited the further development of cultural and trade relations among the two countries. "During our meeting with China's culture and tourism minister, we discussed what we can do for it to extend it to next year. We want to move some other activities to next year," he said.
Before his arrival in China, Ersoy was in Japan, where he also held official talks. The minister said there was an exhibition regarding the celebration of the year of 2019 as the "Year of Turkey" in Japan.
Underlining that for tourism relations between Turkey and China to improve further, necessary transportation infrastructure should be developed, Ersoy said with the opening of Istanbul Airport, which was inaugurated with a grand ceremony on Oct. 29, a very large issue has been resolved.
"The world's biggest airport has been constructed. As of next year, Turkey will no longer have limitations, like limited slots. We have started to invite all airline companies that want to fly from different cities in China, particularly Turkish Airlines [THY]," Ersoy said, adding that if they include them all, Turkey would reach its target of 1 million Chinese tourists in a very short period of time.
THY flies to 36 cities in 23 countries in the Far East, while China comes to the fore as the most important destination among these countries with flights to Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Hong Kong.
Ersoy expressed his expectation for a rise in the number Chinese visitors to Turkey, but he also underscored the necessity to change the promotion policy to boost tourism in the Chinese market. He drew attention to the interest of Chinese tourists, which mostly visited Istanbul and Cappadocia for cultural sightseeing.
Ephesus and Çanakkale's Troy in western Turkey have also been added to the list of sites Chinese tourists frequent in Turkey, the minister noted. "We will begin explaining new cultural destinations to Chinese tourists as of next year, but our main goal is to add new joint operations with our neighbors in addition to cultural and resort tourism. We are planning to carry out activities that promote health care tourism and nature tourism. I believe we can ensure market diversification with China," the minister said.
Chinese Culture and Tourism Minister Luo Shugang also stressed that Turkish-Chinese relations have improved in recent years thanks to collaborations in many areas.
The Chinese minister expressed his pleasure in seeing the rising number of Chinese visitors to Turkey and said the figures will further increase as relations follow a positive course.
The number of visitors Turkey hosts from China is a rising trend resulting from bilateral efforts, like the launch of Turkish Tourism Year and cultural events that promote Turkey for a Chinese audience. Between January and August, a total of 259,462 Chinese tourists visited the country. Turkish officials expect the number of Chinese visitors will reach around 400,000 by the end of the year. Last year, a total of 247,277 Chinese citizens came to Turkey, while the number was only 167,570 in 2016 and stood at 313,000 in 2015.