The tourism sector in Turkiye witnessed a notable resurgence in demand as the number of tourists visiting the country during the first six months of 2023 increased by an impressive 17 percent, surpassing the 22 million mark, Culture and Tourism Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy has announced.
Tourism income also experienced a substantial boost, rising by 27 percent during the same period, amounting to a staggering $21.7 billion, Ersoy revealed during a press conference in Istanbul on July 31.
The minister attributed the positive growth to the country’s efforts to improve per capita nightly income, which had previously declined to $62. He emphasized that these efforts resulted in an increase of more than 50 percent, with the per capita nightly income now reaching $100.
Meanwhile, certain segments faced challenges during the first half of the year. Occupancy rates in hotels catering to high-income groups were below expectations, partially due to the impact of an earthquake and the negative effects of the election process, which coincided with the early booking period,Ersoy said. Additionally, the prolonged cool weather until mid-July led to a decline in last-minute reservations.
“Further affecting the sector was the significant housing purchases made by Russian-speaking citizens, who preferred staying in residences and renting them to tourists during certain periods, rather than opting for traditional hotels,” he stated.
The global recession also played a role in reducing the average length of stay for hotel guests, which decreased from 10.5 overnights to 9.9 overnights.
To address these challenges, Ersoy emphasized the importance of market diversification. Turkiye has been actively working towards this goal for the past five years, making promotional efforts in 200 countries to highlight the country’s gastronomy, health, education, nature and cultural offerings, he said.
Moreover, the minister stressed the significance of sustainability in the tourism industry. Currently, 4,132 hotels in Türkiye have received sustainability certificates, and the goal is to have all hotels in the country certified by the end of the year, Ersoy said.
The minister’s remarks followed the latest data released by the Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK), which revealed that tourism revenue in the second quarter, covering April, May and June, increased by 23.1 percent compared to the same quarter of the previous year, reaching $12.9 billion. Notably, 14.5 percent of this revenue was derived from citizens residing abroad who visited Turkiye.
The data also revealed that the number of visitors departing from Turkiye increased by 17.2 percent compared to the same quarter of the previous year, totaling 13.9 million people. Of these visitors, 12 percent were citizens residing abroad, accounting for 1.6 million people.
During their stay, departing visitors spent an average of $112 per night, while citizens residing abroad had an average nightly expenditure of $83.
Overall, tourism expenditure, including the expenses of citizens residing in Turkiye and those visiting other countries, surged by 67 percent compared to the same quarter of the previous year, reaching $1.7 billion. Out of this amount, $1.6 billion constituted personal expenses, while package tour expenses accounted for $155 million.