Whilst we have recently reported that tourism figures for 2017 are a welcome sign of things to come, President Erdoğan has recently announced that diversification is the only way to minimise the impacts resulting from both the current political climate and the continued misplaced perception (particularly within Europe) that Turkey remains an ‘unsafe’ destination.
Whilst a number of major European operators have announced increased capacity for Turkey in 2018, there still remains an underlying ‘negativity’ about Turkey as a tourist destination.
Despite a significant increase in tourist visitors this year, Erdoğan has announced (at the 3rd Tourism Council meeting) that this upward trend must be maintained and that this can be achieved by focusing on new markets, primarily South Korea, China, Japan, Malaysia and Indonesia.
Over the last decade, the contribution of the tourism sector to Turkey's gross domestic product has been around 4%, with a high of 6.2% in 2015; these figures, however, only account for direct contributions – if indirect contributions are included, the value of the tourism industry is more or less doubled. In 2015, for example, the overall contribution to the GDP was around 12%.
Erdoğan spoke at length on the impact of tourism on the global economy. He announced that Turkey generated $26 billion from tourism revenues in the first nine months of the year, compared to $24 billion for the whole of 2016, indicating that Turkish tourism is once again in the ascendancy. He went on to say that tourism accounts for around 10% of the global economy, creating revenue of more than $7.5 trillion per year and providing employment for nearly 300 million people.
Highlighting the recent recovery, Erdoğan stated that "the worst period for Turkish tourism is behind us – recent increases in revenues prove that Turkey is self-sufficient in tourism and has the immense capability to treat its own wounds."
However, he also highlighted the discrepancy between the increasing number of tourists and the downturn in revenues, emphasizing that the sector must continue the efforts to ensure that expenditure is commensurate with visitor numbers.
In order to accomplish these goals, Erdoğan said that ‘’the tourism policy obviously needs a new vision, perspective, and approach. The reviews and discussions during the 3rd Tourism Council will hopefully lead to moves to ensure that tourism goals are achieved’’.
Drawing attention to the changing concept of tourism, the President highlighted that entertainment and leisure are no longer the sole reasons for tourism – he emphasised that Turkey should take advantage of the opportunities that exist in other areas, such as gastronomy, nature, thermal and health tourism.
‘’If mobilised in the most appropriate manner, then this new vision will result in a significant increase in both the number of visitors and income streams’’.
Erdoğan also said that increased visitor numbers appear to contradict the travel warnings that remain in place and that market diversification will minimise the impact of future developments in the political arena.