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Turkey tourism market: Arab Spring produces mixed results for industry
Travel and Tourism in Turkey - a new market research report on 2014-04-03 20:23:02
In 2012, Turkish travel and tourism continued to grow as the number of incoming, domestic and outbound visitors, as well as number of trips increased during the year, resulting in larger revenues across all categories. Increasing consumer optimism during the post-recession recovery of the Turkish economy encouraged consumers to take their holidays abroad, thereby fuelling outbound visits. Despite the increasing political tension in the Middle East and the continuing economic recession in some European countries, the number of arrivals also managed to register positive growth.

Since its start in the spring of 2011, the Arab Spring created had a mixed impact on Turkish tourism. During the turbulence in North African countries, many Arab visitors preferred Turkish destinations which increased their popularity in the medium-term. The continuing turbulence in Syria reduced the number of Syrian visitors, yet Turkey benefited from Syria´s troubles, as Arab visitors preferred Turkey as a destination over Syria for their summer holidays. The growing awareness among Arab visitors was also met by Turkish companies, as well as tourism authorities and local and central governments. Turkey tried to improve its services in order to meet the growing demand by Arab visitors.

The growing number of internet users, as well as penetration of mobile devices, particularly smart phones and tablet computers helped internet transactions to gain penetration of tourism and travel. In addition to companies selling their products through their own websites, the increasing number of online travel agents also contributed to online sales. Internet transactions are mostly driven by discounted prices offered by both direct suppliers and intermediaries. Even online retailers which are not specialised in tourism and travel, offer package tours at discount prices.

The growing position of Turkey as a health service destination triggered focused attention by tourism and health authorities towards health tourism. With its quality of services in the medical services and its obvious cost advantage, the Turkish medical system opened up new avenues for growth in tourism. Many European citizens prefer Turkish medical facilities to solve their health-related problems, not only in hospitals and other health institutions, but also in natural thermal facilities that offer a large variety of services for the visitors. The Turkish government regards such activity as exports in economic terms, and these activities are subsidised by state. Local investors, on the other hand, tried to take advantage of the situation to develop facilities incorporating health services and accommodation, as well as other services to increase revenue.

Despite the recession in some EU countries and the political instability in the Middle East, both of which led to a minimal increase in the number of trips in Turkey in 2012, Turkish tourism and travel managed to register positive growth in value terms. The government´s increasing recognition of tourism as a driver of economic growth and its actions to subsidise tourism activities signals a more planned approach to the development of tourism and its sustainability over the coming decades. The diversification of tourism destinations to extend the products and services to include other activities including spas and golf resorts, will emphasise cultural and religious tourism by using cultural and historical heritage as well as natural beauties. This is expected to change the image of Turkey from a destination of coastal tourism to serve only in summer to a destination that offers various alternatives that can be visited around the year.

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