Turkey's tourism industry enjoyed another buoyant year in 2019 with more visitors and soaring revenues. Tourism revenues hit $34.5 billion last year, a record high, according to a report issued by the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat) on Friday. This is a 17% increase compared to the sector's revenue of $29.5 billion in 2018, the statistical authority said.
The average expenditure per capita stood at $666 in 2019, up from $647 the previous year. Data showed that visitors spent the most on food and beverages (nearly $1.1 billion), followed by accommodation ($1 billion) last year.
"In this year, while foreign visitors came to Turkey mostly for 'travel, entertainment, sportive and cultural activities' with 73.6%, Turkish citizens resident abroad visited mostly for 'visiting relatives and friends' with 61.7%," the TurkStat statement said.
Turkey welcomed 51.9 million visitors last year, a rise of 13.7% from the previous year, made up of 86.2% foreigners and 13.8% Turkish citizens residing abroad, TurkStat said.
Separately, the Culture and Tourism Ministry announced that the number of foreigners visiting Turkey surged 14.1% on an annual basis, surpassing 45 million last year. In 2018, 39.5 million international visitors came to Turkey.
The country is planning to welcome 58 million foreign visitors and generate $40 billion from tourism activities this year, Culture and Tourism Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy said Thursday.
Istanbul, Turkey's world-famous touristic city, was the top destination with nearly 15 million tourists, accounting for 33% of all foreign visitors in 2019. The Mediterranean resort city of Antalya followed with 14.65 million foreign visitors last year. The third top arriving destination was the northwestern province of Edirne, which borders both Bulgaria and Greece, welcoming 4.3 million foreigners.
In terms of nationality, the highest number of visitors arrived from Russia, accounting for 15.6% of all arrivals − some 7 million visitors − over the same period, followed by Germany with 11.2% − or 5 million visitors − and Bulgaria with 6% − 2.7 million visitors.
Hotel occupancy rate up in 2019
The hotel occupancy rate across Turkey reached 67.6% in 2019, up 2.4% from the previous year, a hotel association said.
The sector's revenue per available room (RevPAR) and average daily rate (ADR) for rooms hit a three-year high in 2019, the Turkish Hotel Association (TÜROB) reported.
RevPAR increased to 52.3 euros ($58), up 13%, while ADR for rooms went up 10.4% to 77.4 euros year-on-year in 2019.
In Europe on average, the hotel occupancy rate was 72.2% and RevPAR was 113.3 euros last year, the report said.
Meanwhile, the occupancy rate was 74% in Turkey's world-famous touristic city of Istanbul and 65.7% in the Mediterranean resort city of Antalya.
While RevPAR and ADR were 77.9 euros and 39.5 euros in 2016, they posted historical highs with 115.6 euros and 74.8 euros, respectively, in 2012. The average euro/U.S. dollar exchange rate was 1.11 in 2019.