The Turkish tourism board has reported an increase in visitor numbers from the GCC region to Turkey since the Israeli flotilla raid last month in which Israeli commandos attacked a convoy of Turkish ships carrying aid to the Gaza strip.
While Israeli tourists are now boycotting Turkey as a result of the situation, the surge in visitor numbers from the GCC “more than compensated for this decreased” said Emin Kaya, Turkish Consulate General in Dubai.
He added: “We are losing maybe 95 percent of tourists from Israel but we are compensating with tourists from this region many more times. That situation had the impact of people from this region booking more holidays to Turkey. When Israel attacked the Turkish flotilla, GCC visitors increased their bookings to Turkey by 20 percent in two days.”
Kaya added that GCC visitors had a far higher tourist spend: “The Israeli tourists spend around US$ 600 – 650 dollars per person in Turkey but GCC people spend $2,000 – 2,400 per person. That’s four times more, so with this increased rate we are many more times covering any decrease in tourist spend.”
The GCC market is the fastest growing market for tourists to Turkey. Due to this increasing popularity, Turkey recently revised its visitor targets and is now aiming for a 50 percent increase in GCC tourists this year.
“Turkey was already popular in this market but now it is getting more popular,” said Kaya. “If you come in the morning you will see a crowd in front of the Turkish consulate – every day we receive around 400 visa applications from this region. So now we have increased our targets to a 50 percent increase in visitor numbers from this region.”