Some 2.5 million people have made early bookings so far, benefiting from a campaign initiated in December, according to Cem Polatoğlu, the spokesman for the Platform of Tour Operators.
A significant increase in the number of foreign tourists in particular is expected, Polatoğlu said, noting that early bookings launched with a 50 percent discount and nine installments are in high demand.
"There is a 15 percent increase in early bookings compared to last year. 2.5 million people have already made early reservations," he told Anadoly Agency (AA), stressing domestic tourists should get a move on to take advantage of the campaign. Referring to reservations from abroad, Polatoğlu said, "First, there are reservations from Russia. In Europe, on the other hand, we see a very serious demand from Germany. The fact that British tourists have resumed their reservations to Bodrum after three years is quite pleasing. We expect an increase in other European countries as well."
He remarked that 2018 was very productive for Turkish tourism, adding last year's performance will be surpassed in 2019.
According to the Tourism Ministry, more than 37.5 million foreigners visited the country in the first 11 months of 2018, up 23 percent year-on-year. Once the figures for December are released, the country is expected to have surpassed the target of 40 million foreign visitors, an all-time high.
The figures revealed that the country hosted nearly 43 million visitors, including Turkish expats living abroad, in the said period of this year, with a 21.35 percent year-on-year increase. The year 2018 was projected to close with a total of 45 million visitors.
Polatoğlu further said quotas for domestic tourists have fallen due to the interest of foreign tourists in hotels, and that 80 percent of the quotas for July and August are already over. "In order to reach the target of 50 million tourists in 2019, we must attach importance to culture and gastronomy tourism. Çatalhöyük and Göbeklitepe promotions are underway. Both the ministry and private sector representatives are doing their best in fairs abroad," he continued.
The world's oldest temple, considered the birthplace of early civilizations, Göbeklitepe will define the code of the Turkish tourism policy this year. In a bid to promote one of the most important and ancient archeological sites - located in Turkey's southeastern province of Şanlıurfa - the government has declared 2019 as the year of Göbeklitepe.