The number of foreign visitors arriving in Turkiye sustained a strong recovery in November after a 2020 slump owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, official data suggested on Friday.
Backed by demand from European countries, foreign arrivals jumped 44.64% from a year earlier to 2.55 million last month, revealed Culture and Tourism Ministry data.
The arrivals stood at 1.76 million foreign visitors in November 2021 and 833,991 in November 2020. This year’s arrivals have been mainly boosted by Russian visitors who were hit by flight restrictions by Western countries after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The rebound has also been driven by a major leap in demand from Europe, spearheaded by Germany and the United Kingdom.
Tourism revenues are vital to Turkiye’s economy as the government’s new economic program focuses on flipping the current account deficits to a surplus, prioritizing exports, production and investments while curbing rising inflation.
Russian visitors topped the list in November with 312,486 arrivals. They were followed by Bulgaria at 232,709 and Germany at 207,340, the data showed.
In the January-November period,the number of foreign visitors stood reached 42.16 million people, up 84.77% compared to the same period in 2021, matching pre-pandemic levels of 2019.
At 5.48 million, Germans topped the list, followed by nearly 4.95 million arrivals from Russia and 3.3 million arrivals from the United Kingdom, said the Culture and Tourism Ministry.
The rebound prompted the government to once again revise its year-end tourism targets. Culture and Tourism Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy earlier this month said they now expect 51.5 million tourists and $46 billion in revenues. Estimates had stood at 45 million arrivals and $35 billion in income at the beginning of the year. Forecasts for 2023 have also been upgraded, as Turkiye now expects 60 million foreign visitors and $56 billion in revenues.
Officials had hoped tourism this year could replicate or exceed 2019 figures, when some 52 million visitors brought in $34 billion in revenue.
The number of foreign visitors soared by 94.1% to 24.71 million last year when COVID-19 measures were eased compared to 2020. Tourism revenues doubled to almost $25 billion but remained well below the recorded level in 2019.
Revenues from January through September this year already reached $35 billion, according to data from the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat), up nearly 68% versus the same period a year ago.