Turkey’s foreign tourist arrivals figure grew by 39% y/y to 1.46mn in January, data from the culture and tourism ministry showed on February 28.
Foreign tourist arrivals rose by 28% y/y to 32.4mn in the full year of 2017. The number of Russian tourists increased to 4.72mn from only 0.87mn in 2016 thanks to the resetting of relations between Ankara and Moscow.
Russia imposed a ban on charter flights to Turkey after the downing of a Russian jet near the Syrian border in November 2015 and the number of foreign tourist arrivals in Turkey subsequently shrank by 30% y/y to 25.4mn in 2016.
Also taking a toll on arrivals were security concerns following the attempted coup and a wave of terrorist attacks in 2016 and Turkey's perceived slide under its ongoing state of emergency to authoritarianism, during which the EU has raised grave concerns about a lack of respect for basic human rights.
Turkey’s tourism revenues increased by 19% y/y to $26.2bn in 2017, national statistics office TUIK said on January 31. However, the average expenditure of visitors fell to $681 per capita in 2017 from $705 in 2016.
More than 6.5mn Turkish citizens living abroad visited Turkey last year, bringing in more than $5.9bn which corresponded to some 23.5% of the country’s overall tourism revenues, Hurriyet Daily News reported on February 26, citing a report by the Union of Mediterranean Touristic Hoteliers and Operators (AKTOB).
Turks living abroad spent $903 per capita on average during their stays in Turkey in 2017, $75 higher compared to the previous year.
Turkey very much relies on tourism revenues to finance its current account deficit. The revenues sharply declined to $22.1bn in 2016 from $31.5bn in 2015. Along with the rapprochement with Moscow in 2017, there was a substantial reduction in terrorism. Turkey has not experienced a major terrorist attack in over a year.
Turkey’s embattled tourism sector is enjoying an “amazing rebound” with early bookings from German travellers for summer 2018 up 70% y/y, a German tourism industry figure told a meeting of the Turkish Tourism Investors Association (TYD), Hurriyet Daily News reported on January 25.
On February 28, Reuters reported German market researcher GfK as saying summer bookings to Turkey by German holidaymakers had doubled, but were still far from the levels seen a few years ago. Bookings for Turkey from Germany for summer 2018 were up 101% at end-January from a year ago, GfK data showed. But it added that the volume of bookings was still only about half of that for Greece, reversing the pattern seen a few years ago.
Travel firm Thomas Cook said last November 22 that summer 2018 bookings for Turkey were very strong.
The country’s tourism sector should see revenues grow to $30bn in 2018, helped by planned new incentives for tour operators and rising visitor numbers, Tourism Minister Numan Kurtulmus said in November.
"We are expecting 31.4 million visitors in 2017, and from that, revenue of $26bn. In 2018, this should rise to 37 million to 38 million visitors, generating revenue of $30bn," Kurtulmus said.