Russians made up 16.8% of all visitors last year
The number of foreigners visiting Turkey exceeded 12.7 million in 2020 amid the novel coronavirus-related travel restrictions and fall in demand, the Culture and Tourism Ministry said on Friday.
Choked off by the virus, the figure fell 71.7% from the previous year, the ministry’s data showed.
Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city by population and a top tourist draw, welcomed 39% of foreign visitors 5 million last year. It was followed by the Mediterranean resort city of Antalya with 26% or nearly 3.3 million foreigners.
Edirne in northwestern Turkey, which borders both Bulgaria and Greece, saw 1.8 million foreign visitors in 2020.
Russians made up 16.8% or over 2 million of all visitors, followed by Bulgarians with 9.8%, Germans with 8.8%, Ukrainians with 7.8%, and Britons with 6.4%.
Official data also showed air was the most popular way for foreign visitors to reach Turkey, with 9.6 million foreign travelers flying in, while some 3 million used roadways.
In December, 699,330 foreign visitors entered the country, decreasing 67.4% from the same month previous year.
In 2019, the country welcomed 45 million foreign visitors, up from 39.5 million from 2018.
Separately, the Turkish Statistical Institute revealed that Turkey’s tourism revenues slipped 65.1% year-on-year to $12.6 billion last year.
The number of departing visitors dropped 69.5% from the previous year to 16 million people (both foreign nationals and citizens living abroad) in 2020.
Previously, Culture and Tourism Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy projected Turkey to end 2020 with slightly over $11 billion in tourism revenues and over 15 million travelers.
Ersoy said Turkey targets 100% growth for 2021 at minimum, which means over 30 million tourists.
According to the latest data from the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), global tourism suffered its worst year on record in 2020, with international arrivals dropping by 74%.
The collapse in international travel represents an estimated loss of $1.3 trillion in export revenues, UNWTO said.