Inbound Turkish tourism is undergoing a major boom, according to a recent Wall Street Journal article by Joe Parkinson, due to the country’s weak currency and its stability compared to neighboring countries in the region, which have been economically disturbed by various forms of political unrest. Istanbul hotels are reporting the highest occupancy in all of Europe, and many conference halls and beach resorts are booked between one and two years out.
The latest data on Turkey’s $25 billion tourism industry show the number of tourists—local and foreign—increased by almost 11% in the first seven months of this year compared with the same period in 2010, according to the Ministry of Tourism. And 2010 was a bumper year. The visitors include record numbers arriving from Europe and the Mideast. The crowds are bringing with them a welcome injection of foreign currency.
A heavy increase of Middle Eastern tourists has also been noted, with Iran falling close behind Germany and the U.K. as the top inbound markets, with a 75 percent increase just in 2011. Travelers from this region also spend more freely than others, a factor in rising numbers of foreign currency flowing into the the nation.
A July report from Turkey’s Interbank Center, a research group funded by Turkish banks, showed a 35% rise in foreign credit-card spending in the first six months of 2011, compared with the same period a year ago. That far outpaces tourist spending growth in Italy (17%) and Portugal (16%) and Greece (14%).
Tourism is affecting the nation so siginifiganly that Turkey’s GDP has expanded 8.8% in the second quarter, surpassing even China. The demand is being met with increased development, including a new airport.