Shaking off the coronavirus fallout even as many other countries face air travel problems, Türkiye continues to be an attractive destination for international tourists this summer, mostly from major European source markets, top tourism officials told Anadolu Agency. .
Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary General of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), emphasized that the restart and recovery of tourism is underway.
“Türkiye has been among the destinations that saw a marked uptick in international arrivals during the peak summer season,” thanks to pent-up travel demand unleashed by the lifting or relaxation of travel restrictions, it said.
According to the latest data from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Türkiye attracted more than 23 million foreign visitors in the first seven months of the year, an annual increase of more than 128%.
Türkiye did his homework
He also underlined that Türkiye is “well placed” to welcome visitors as it has been supporting its tourism sector during the coronavirus pandemic.
Praising Türkiye’s investments in tourism infrastructure and manpower, Pololikashvili said: “Together with the country’s rich history and its many attractions, including coastal destinations, Türkiye is an attractive option for tourists, especially from major markets. of European origin”.
Citing the latest figures, he said that international tourism saw a strong rebound in the first five months of 2022, with arrivals reaching almost half (46%) of the levels of the same period in 2019.
Arrivals more than tripled (up 221%) between January and May compared to last year, but remained 54% below 2019 levels.
By region, Europe and the Americas continued to lead the recovery where most travel restrictions were lifted, but arrivals remained 36% and 40% below 2019 levels, respectively.
“Strong tourist demand during the northern hemisphere summer season is expected to consolidate these positive results, particularly as more destinations ease or lift travel restrictions,” it said.
But Pololikashvili stressed that the current geopolitical insecurity, the war between Russia and Ukraine, coupled with rising interest rates in most countries and pressure on consumers, could hurt tourism growth for the rest of this year. .
“Increasing economic and geopolitical challenges continue to pose a risk to the recovery,” he added.
Pololikashvili stressed that since Ukraine and Russia together accounted for 3% of all global tourism spending in 2020, the World Tourism Organization projects that a prolonged conflict could cause a loss of $14 billion in tourism revenue.
Türkiye’s travel and tourism sector is ‘just as positive’
Julia Simpson, President and CEO of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), told Anadolu Agency that the outlook for global travel and tourism is bright with strong growth figures.
Travel and tourism is expected to reach pre-pandemic levels by next year, Simpson said, adding that the sector is projected to grow to nearly $8.4 trillion by the end of this year, only slightly below 2019 levels.
“Travel is going to be one of the driving forces of the global recovery, creating nearly 126 million jobs over the next decade. In fact, one in three of every new job created will be in our sector,” he said. .
Simpson highlighted that the travel and tourism sector in Türkiye, “an incredibly popular destination”, is “just as positive”.
Türkiye’s travel and tourism gross domestic product is expected to grow twice as fast as the national economy over the next decade and will reach near pre-pandemic levels by next year, he stressed.
“It is no surprise that Turkey has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, with its stunning natural beauty, its historical and archaeological sites, its ever-improving hotel and tourism infrastructure, and its tradition of hospitality and competitive prices,” said.
Simpson pointed to the role of the new Istanbul Airport in improving connectivity between Türkiye and key international markets and said it will help attract more visitors.
Citing figures from the World Travel and Tourism Council, Simpson said the country’s travel and tourism sector saw a massive jump in its recovery, contributing more than 526 billion Turkish liras ($59.2 billion) to the national economy. in 2021, when the US dollar/Turkish lira exchange rate averaged 8.88.
“It’s making a serious comeback, with international visitor spending jumping 104% last year, compared to the year before, reaching just over 249 billion Turkish liras ($13.7 billion). Bravo to Turkiye,” he said.
Referring to the war between Russia and Ukraine, Simpson said that both Russian and Ukrainian outbound travel accounted for 5.4% of global international travel in 2019, with Russia being the largest origin market.
“Destinations in Eastern Europe will fare worse than other regions due to greater reliance on travel from both countries,” he said.
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