Turkish tourism underwent a difficult period three years ago with terror attacks and a coup attempt in the heat of the summer, on July 15. The following year showed promise as the recovery signs began to disseminate in major resort towns. With the country welcoming 39.5 million foreign visitors last year, Turkey began to reap the benefits of the recovery and neared the record numbers of 2014, when it hosted 41.4 million foreign visitors, generating $34.3 billion in revenue.
Stefan Baumert, one of the executives of the German tour operator TUI, said the 2019 data shows that foreign demand in Turkey's tourism continues to increase as bookings in Turkish vacation destinations have seen a 40 percent rise compared to the previous year. Among TUI customers, Turkey has made the biggest jump in the Mediterranean. The German operator stated that bookings to Morocco surged 37 percent, while reservations for Egyptian resorts increased by 31 percent. Bookings for the island of Cyprus rose by 19 percent. The operator noted that bookings for Greek and Spanish facilities decreased, albeit slightly.
The British tourism company Thomas Cook previously said bookings for Turkey soared 10 percent compared to the previous year. Because of Brexit, the U.K.'s divorce from the European Union, British tourists have started to opt for non-EU destinations for vacation. This year, Turkey outperformed Greece and became the second-most popular destination preferred by British tourists after Spain.
The positive expectations regarding the Middle East market, which sends 4.5 million tourists to Turkey, continue this season. Although a slight decrease in the number of tourists coming from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Qatar has been observed in the first quarter of this year, the trend for an increase in the number of tourists coming from the Gulf countries is expected to continue with more bookings in the post-bayram period. Between January and March, Turkey welcomed 805,000 visitors from Gulf nations with a 14 percent increase compared to the previous year. Although the number of tourists from Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar dropped by 30 percent, 18 percent and 13 percent, respectively, the number of visitors from Bahrain rose by 32 percent. Turkey saw the number of tourists coming from Iraq rise by 30 percent. The number of visitors from Jordan and Kuwait rose 22 percent and 19 percent, respectively.