In spite of a difficult summer, the Turkish Ministry of Tourism and Culture remains optimistic, doubling down in its efforts to attract and host over 50 million visitors by 2018.
While the protests that shook the country last June led to a less than ideal 2013 season, Turkey is still on track to become one of the world's leading vacation destinations. The nation, 17th among global powers, aims to join the top ten by 2023, in time for the 100th anniversary of its Republic. With this goal in mind, Turkey is stepping up its game across a number of economic sectors, and the tourism industry is among the key areas of focus.
In 2012, tourism brought US$23.4 billion to Turkey, and the country hopes to see this figure grow to US$45 billion by 2018, according to a press release from the Turkish Ministry of Investment and International Cooperation. Results from the first quarter of 2013 are more than encouraging: the tourism industry generated revenues of US$6.9 million, showing a 28.4% increase compared to the same period in the previous year.
Ramping up infrastructure development
As part of its efforts to join the ranks of global leaders, Turkey has rapidly developed its tourist infrastructure in recent years. While in 1970, the country was equipped with just over 28,000 beds in 292 hotels approved by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, these figures skyrocketed to 706,019 beds in 2,870 establishments by 2012.
Eager to claim their stake in a growing market, major international hotel chains are enhancing their presence in Turkey. This month, the Carlson Rezidor group announced that it would open its fourth hotel in Istanbul under the Radisson Blu name. The new hotel will bring 130 rooms to the Pera (Beyoglu) Taksim neighborhood, known for its shops, restaurant and nightlife. Including the new establishment, Carlson Rezidor will have seven hotels and 1,500 rooms across the Turkish territory.
Other initiatives destined to make Turkey the next tourism hot spot include the construction of the world's largest mosque in Istanbul, the opening of a new airport with a capacity of 150 million passengers per year and the construction of a canal connecting the Black and Marmara Seas.
While these efforts are in large part geared towards bringing more visitors to the country (Turkey hopes to host 48.5 million tourists in 2018, compared to 31.8 million in 2012), they are also meant to bolster Istanbul's bid to host the 2020 Olympic Games. The city is competing with Madrid and Tokyo for the honor.