Already a powerful player in the global tourism market, Turkey is eyeing much higher targets in terms of both number and tourism revenues by 2023, when it will celebrate the100th anniversary of the Turkish Republic’s foundation.
Tourism and Culture Ministry Undersecretary İsmet Yılmaz said the country could attract 50 million foreign visitors and $50 billion in revenues from tourism if it managed to sufficiently diversify services. “For this to happen, the weight of sun, sea and sand tourism should shrink in the total tourism revenue figures while the share of other types of tourism increases,” he said, adding that investors should also pay more attention to drawing wealthier foreign visitors by establishing favorable resorts. To attain the ministry’s goals, the capacity of beds in tourism facilities has to be at least 1.25 million, Yılmaz asserted and claimed that there must be 5 million people working in tourism; Turkey must have 500 planes to carry tourists; and the country needs 10 conference centers, 40 marinas and 25 cruise ports. All in all, the undersecretary said Turkey’s primary target is to find a place for itself among the world’s top-five destinations. It is currently one of the 10 largest tourism markets in the world.
Yılmaz’s remarks came in Antalya after the “Tourism Search Conference” organized by the Culture and Tourism Ministry in cooperation with the Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges (TOBB). The closed-door conference’s participants included representatives from the government and the business world. After the conference, Yılmaz shared the decisions made at the gathering on the future of Turkish tourism with the press.
He said the conference aimed to designate a future for the industry, to form a vision and determine strategies and action plans. Yılmaz told the press that Turkey could attain all the targets by acting in unity and solidarity. “We have to increase the service quality in our hotels,” he pointed out and cited the conference’s motto: “But everything is here,” which meant that Turkey had all kinds of tourism opportunities from faith-based to winter, health, golf, historical, etc. “Only the US and Turkey have 14 golf courses in a 10-kilometer area,” he noted.
TOBB Chair Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu also made a speech after the conference and said that the tourism industry is Turkey’s golden business in terms of both employment and foreign exchange revenues. Turkey’s share in the global tourism pie was just one per thousand in the 1980s but today this figure has risen to 2 percent.