Tourism in Turkey

Tourism in Turkey is focused largely on a variety of historical sites, and on seaside resorts along its Aegean and Mediterranean Sea coasts. Turkey has also become a popular destination for culture, spa, and health care tourism. At its height in 2014, Turkey attracted around 42 million foreign tourists, ranking as the 6th most popular tourist destination in the world.[1] This number however declined to around 36 million in 2015 and deteriorated further in 2016,[2][3] due to a general increase in political violence, political tension with Russia, and terrorist attacks,[4][5] and to the bad image that the increasingly authoritarian policies of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan have given to Turkey.[3]

The current promotional campaign of Turkey is Turkey Home.


Istanbul is one of the most important tourism spots not only in Turkey but also in the world. There are thousands of hotels and other tourist-oriented industries in the city, catering to both vacationers and visiting professionals. Turkey's largest city, Istanbul, has a number of major attractions derived from its historical status as capital of the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. These include the Sultan Ahmed Mosque (the "Blue Mosque"), the Hagia Sophia, the Topkapı Palace, the Basilica Cistern, the Dolmabahçe Palace, the Galata Tower, the Grand Bazaar, the Spice Bazaar, and the Pera Palace Hotel. Istanbul has also recently become one of the biggest shopping centers of the European region by hosting malls and shopping centers, such as Metrocity, Akmerkez and Cevahir Mall, which is the biggest mall in Europe and seventh largest shopping center in the world. Other attractions include sporting events, museums, and cultural events.

In January 2013, the Turkish government announced that it will build the world's largest airport in Istanbul. The operation has an invested 7 billion euros and will have its first part of a four-part plan completed by 2017.[6]

As a consequence of the continuous fall in tourism to Turkey in recent years, as of October 2016 in Istanbul's famous bazaar once crowded shopping streets are almost empty, "the streams of tourists who used to visit the market each day have trickled to a halt."[2]

Other destinations in Turkey

Beach vacations and Blue Cruises, particularly for Turkish delights and visitors from Western Europe, are also central to the Turkish tourism industry. Most beach resorts are located along the southwestern and southern coast, called the Turkish Riviera, especially along the Mediterranean coast near Antalya. Antalya is also accepted as the tourism capital of Turkey.[7] Major resort towns include Bodrum, Fethiye, Marmaris, Kuşadası, Çeşme, Didim and Alanya. Also Turkey has been chosen second in the world in 2015 with its 436 blue-flagged beaches, according to the Chamber of Shipping.[8]

Lots of cultural attractions elsewhere in the country include the sites of Ephesus, Troy, Pergamon, House of the Virgin Mary, Pamukkale, Hierapolis, Trabzon (where one of the oldest monasteries is the Sümela Monastery), Konya (where the poet Rumi had spent most of his life), Didyma, Church of Antioch, ancient pontic capital and king rock tombs with its acropolis in Amasya, religious places in Mardin (such as Deyrülzafarân Monastery), and the ruined cities and landscapes of Cappadocia.

Diyarbakır is also an important historic city, although tourism is on a relatively small level due to waning armed conflicts.

Ankara has an historic old town, and although it is not exactly a tourist city, is usually a stop for travelers who go to Cappadocia. The city enjoys an excellent cultural life too, and has several museums. The Anıtkabir is also in Ankara. It is the mausoleum of Atatürk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey.

Gallipoli and Anzac Cove - a small cove on the Gallipoli peninsula, which became famous as the site of World War I landing of the ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) on 25 April 1915. Following the landing at Anzac Cove, the beach became the main base for the Australian and New Zealand troops for the eight months of the Gallipoli campaign. Ministry of Culture and Tourism (Turkey) understands an importance of cultural and historical heritage, that's why strongly supports local tour operators [9] who offer Gallipoli region visit for commemoration services to Australians, New Zealanders and British.

Travel safety

During the 1990s, the PKK tried to damage the Turkish tourism industry by bombing hotels.[10][11] Kidnappings of foreign tourists were also reported in this period.[10][11] An academic article published in 2011 in the British peer-reviewed economics journal Applied Economics, suggested there is strong econometric evidence that attacks by the PKK have had a negative impact on Turkish tourism.[12]

Due to the recent flare in violence, nine countries, among then Russia and Germany, have issued travel advisories. Seven other countries, New Zealand, Australia, Italy, Britain, Poland, Ireland and Canada, discouraged their citizens to visit the eastern part of Turkey. Some countries have also issued advisories concerning public transportation within metropolitan cities throughout Turkey. Germany and Russia have discouraged their citizens to visit places near the border.[13] Following the 2015 Suruç bombing, the British Foreign Office highlighted a heightened threat of attacks but did not advise against travel to Turkey, as the vast majority of Turkey remained "perfectly safe" to visit.[14]

On 3 September 2015, due to the recent violence concerning the Turkey-Islamic State conflict, the United States State Department released an advisory about the ongoing violence in Turkey. In the advisory, the State Department notes that militants have conducted attacks on U.S. interests in the country and that there's a potential for recurring violence.[15] On 9 April 2016, due to additional "credible threats" of violence, the United States released a warning for its citizens to refrain from visiting popular tourist areas such as Antalya and Istanbul.[16][17]

In the aftermath of the 2016 Turkish coup d'état attempt, the United States State Department prohibited US airline carriers from flying to or from Turkey. The US Embassy in Turkey stated that the security at Istanbul's Atatürk airport is "significantly diminished" and the State Department advised US citizens to reconsider travel to Turkey, and warned of threats of terrorism.[18][19]

Development of tourism

Year Arrivals
1995 7,083,000
2000 8,000,000
2005 21,200,000
2010 28,632,204
2011 31,456,076
2012 31,785,780
2013 39,724,912
2014 41,263,670
2015 36 244 632

Foreign tourist arrivals increased substantially in Turkey between 2000 and 2005, from 8 million to 21.2 million, which made Turkey a top-10 destination in the world for foreign visitors. 2005 revenues were US$17.5 billion which also made Turkey one of the top-10 biggest revenue owners in the world. In 2011, Turkey ranked as the 6th most popular tourist destination in the world and 4th in Europe, according to UNWTO World Tourism barometer.[20] See World Tourism rankings. At its height in 2014, Turkey attracted around 42 million foreign tourists, still ranking as the 6th most popular tourist destination in the world.[21]

From 2015, tourism to Turkey entered a steep decline.[22][23] 2016 is by October described as the second year of huge losses on both visitor numbers and income, a "year of devastating losses", with Turkish tourism businesses stating that they "cannot remember a worse time in the sector".[2] The reason for the disastrous fall in tourism is attributed to a general increase in political violence, political tension with Russia, and terrorist attacks,[4][5][2] and to the bad image that the increasingly authoritarian policies of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan have given to Turkey. As by Faruk Şen, head of the Turkish European Foundation for Education and Scientific Studies: "German tourists are not afraid of bombs; if fewer German tourists are now coming to Turkey, that is because of the country’s image. In Germany, if you say “I’m going to Turkey, this is now perceived meaning ‘I’m going to a dictator’s country.’”"[3]

Top 10 countries whose residents provided the most visits to Turkey (2015 est.)[24]
Germany Germany5 580 792
Russia Russia3 649 003
United Kingdom United Kingdom2 512 139
Georgia (country) Georgia1 911 832
Bulgaria Bulgaria1 821 480
Iran Iran1 700 385
Netherlands Netherlands1 232 487
Iraq Iraq 1 094 144
France France 847 259
United States United States 798 787

See also


  1. "42 million tourists visit Turkey in 2014". Daily Sabah. Retrieved 6 July 2016.
  2. 1 2 3 4 "Turkey's tourism industry reels from a year to forget". The Guardian. 5 October 2016.
  3. 1 2 3 "Turkish–German ties at historic low, says scholar Faruk Şen". Hürriyet Daily News. 21 November 2016.
  4. 1 2 "Turkish 2015 tourism revenues fall 8.3 pct to $31.46 bln: Data". Hürriyet Daily News. Retrieved 6 July 2016.
  5. 1 2 "Turkey tourism industry is latest to fall at hands of ISIS". DailyMail. 29 June 2016.
  6. Maierbrugger, Arno (25 January 2013). "Turkey plans world's biggest airport". Inside Investor. Retrieved 17 May 2013.
  7. Tilic, L. Dogan (5 April 2010). "Antalya: The Tourism Capital of Turkey". European Business Review. Retrieved 28 January 2011.
  8. "Turkey rich in 'blue flags' - TRAVEL". 2011-09-13. Retrieved 2016-10-15.
  9. Turkey Travel Centre#Turkish Tourism
  10. 1 2 Page, Stephen J.; Connell, Joanne (2007). Tourism : a modern synthesis (2. ed.). London [u.a.]: Thomson. p. 508. ISBN 1844801985. The PKK has emulated ETA's letter campaign warning foreign companies against sending tourists to Turkey, bombed tourism sites and hotels, and kidnapped foreign tourists.
  11. 1 2 Barnhart, Stephen R. (2002). International terrorism and political violence : the entity of trans-national criminal organisations and new terrorisms in the Balkans-Middle East and Eastern Europe, and its effect on the entire world! : memoirs of secret agents and organizations from "around the world". Victoria, B.C.: Trafford. p. 117. ISBN 1553692438.
  12. Feridun, Mete (2011) Impact of terrorism on tourism in Turkey: empirical evidence from Turkey. Applied Economics, 43 (24). pp. 3349-3354. ISSN 0003-6846 (print), ISSN 1466-4283 (online) (doi:10.1080/00036841003636268)
  13. Duran, Aram Ekin; Özdemir, Sinem (10 August 2015). "Turkish tourism hit by security concerns". Deutsche Welle.
  14. "Suruc bombing: Is it safe to travel in Turkey following suicide attack?". The Independent. Retrieved 18 October 2015.
  15. "Turkey Travel Warning". Bureau of Consular Affairs, U.S. Department of State. 3 September 2015.
  16. "Turkey warning: US advises of threats to Istanbul and Antalya". BBC. 9 April 2016.
  17. "Turkey terrorism: US Embassy releases emergency warning over 'credible threat' of attack on tourist areas". Independent. 9 April 2016.
  18. "Airlines, governments suspend Turkey flights after coup". Times of Israel. 16 July 2016.
  19. "Security Message: Turkey Travel Warning". U.S. Department of State.
  20. "2012 Tourism Highlights" (PDF). UNWTO. June 2012. Retrieved 17 June 2012.
  21. "42 million tourists visit Turkey in 2014". Daily Sabah. Retrieved 6 July 2016.
  22. Kafanov, Lucy (19 August 2015). "Violence costing Turkey precious tourism, even far from the fighting". Christian Science Monitor.
  23. "4.9 pct less tourists in Turkey in June". DailySabah. Retrieved 2015-11-15.
  24. Border Statistics 2015
Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Turkey.

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