In the first 11 months of 2022, Istanbul, which is also the country’s financial and commercial center, welcomed 14.7 million holidaymakers, close to the 14.9 million tourists the city received in the whole of 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic hit global travel and tourism industries.
There are no official data regarding foreign tourist visits in December, but some indicators suggest that tourism activity remained strong in the month. It is expected that when the final data is released, the number of foreign tourists arriving in Istanbul will reach a record 16 million.
Last month, the megacity welcomed 1.34 million international visitors, marking an all-time-high November figure, which was nearly 35 percent higher than the same month of 2022,according to official statistics.
Arrivals by air grew more than 33 percent on an annual basis to 1.32 million people while arrivals by sea leaped 262 percent from November 2021 to nearly 19,000.
Some 71 percent of foreign visitors entered the city through Istanbul Airport while 27 percent through Sabiha Gökçen Airport.
Russians and Germans topped the list of foreign tourists while people from 194 countries visited Istanbul in November. Iranians, Saudis, Israelis, U.S. nationals, Britons and French constituted the other largest group of visitors.
Most of the tourists visit the city to see historical sites and cultural tourism but some came to Istanbul for shopping purposes.
In 2020 when the pandemic hit, the number of foreign tourists visiting Istanbul declined to 5 million but it recovered to 9 million in the following year.
Türkiye targets to receive 50 million foreign tourists and generate $44 billion in tourism revenues this year.