Turkiye eyes more foreign shoppers

The Culture and Tourism Ministry will work on new strategies for boosting tourism in Turkiye via ad campaigns and promotional videos centered on attracting foreign shoppers to the country, says Sinan Öncel, chair of the United Brands’ Association (BMD).

As domestic consumption sags, local retailers are turning to foreign shoppers and they benefit from a rebound in international tourist traffic.

“In terms of the U.S. dollar, foreign tourists’ spending increased by 12 percent. We had talks with the Culture and Tourism Ministry to raise the issue of promoting the retail sector and shopping in Turkiye. Officials from the ministry agreed,” Öncel told business daily Dünya.

Öncel expects officials to begin work for shopping tourism in the coming days. “One of the main reasons to visit Turkiye for foreigners is now shopping,” he added.

In terms of volume, sales declined but revenues rose due to the price increases, and this increase is partly due to foreign shoppers, Öncel said.“We need to keep tourism alive.”
He noted that both foreign tourist arrivals and per capita spending increased, and this has a positive impact on the retail industry.

Foreign tourists’ spending compensates for weak demand from local consumers, Öncel said, noting that in some regions sales to foreign shoppers account for 50 percent of all sales.
The number of tourists increased significantly, said Hasan Fırat, head of an association, which represents businesses in Istanbul’s famous Grand Bazaar.

Fırat recalled that shops at Grand Bazaar closed for months during the pandemic, which increased businesses’ debts. “Thanks to foreign tourists, businesses are now able to reduce their debts and even make profits,” he said.
Shares of foreign shoppers in total sales increased to as much as 60 percent, according to İzzet Stamati, the chair of the Registered Brands Association (TMD).

“Saudis top the lists, followed by Kuwaitis, Iranians, Russians and Azeris,” he told the daily.
However, Stamati said that more needs to be done to attract more people since Turkiye is not among the top shopping destinations.

In 2019, some 1.6 million foreigners came to Turkiye only for shopping, according to the daily, which cites data from the Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK). However, in the first half of 2022, the number of foreign shoppers climbed to an all-time high of 1.2 million. In 2017, this figure was 1.5 million, declining to 1.4 million in the following year.


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