Figures from the first three months of Turkey's tourism industry will have a significantly positive effect on the account deficit. With a 22.5 percent increase in the number of tourists in March, tourism operators say that should the trend continue they will easily surpass their year-end goals. The increase in congress tourism and religious tourism, such as experienced over Easter, were also influential factors in the overall rise in the sector. The increasing number of those who stayed in Turkey overnight as transit passengers flying Turkish Airlines (THY) also positively affected first quarter figures.
During this time frame the number of tourists that came to Turkey from Israel alone rose by 138 percent. Pointing out that prior to the Mavi Marmara incident, the number of Israeli tourists that came to Turkey reached between 500-600 thousand annually, which is now down to the 50-60 thousand level, Touristic Hoteliers and Operators Union President Timur Bayındır says, "With the normalization in relations that will follow Israel's apology, we expect to swiftly recover our previous figures."
TOURISM FROM THE MIDDLE EAST IS ON THE RISE
Interest in Turkey by Middle Eastern tourists is on the rise daily. Turkish Travel Agencies Union President Başaran Ulusoy states, "Congress tourism is becoming extremely lively. We are receiving intense demands from the Middle East, Israel, Iran and Iraq. Turkish Airlines' flights have also positively affected the sector."
Georgian visitors take top second spot
The number of foreign visitors to Turkey reached 1.84 million this March, a 26.06 percent increase compared to the same month the year prior. Growth experienced in the first quarter reached 22.52 percent. While the highest number of visitors was from Germany, Georgians followed in second and Syrians came in third.
This is a translation of an article originally written by Barış Ergin.