As a well-known tourism destination, Turkey continues to present investment opportunities both in the established and newly developing subsectors of the industry.
Turkey is currently the 6th most popular tourist destination in the world, attracting more than 30 million tourists annually and continuing to show positive growth year-on-year.
The Turkish tourism industry’s energetic and continuous growth remains unhindered by the negative effects of the recent global economic crisis, and there is still an immense amount of untapped potential in the sector. Breathtaking coastlines along the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas, with long sandy beaches and pristine bays, contribute significantly to this robustly growing industry. Adding to Turkey’s natural riches, the country is the birthplace of many ancient civilizations that left their mark on
history. The vast number of archeological sites dotting the landscape of Anatolia reminds one of the various empires and diverse cultures, some dating back millennia, that once thrived there. From Ephesus in the west to Mount Nemrut in the east and further beyond, it is common to encounter sacred sites, temples and religious grounds belonging to
various cultures and beliefs.
A flurry of new hotel openings and brand hotel investments all over Turkey, not just in major tourism centers like Antalya, Mugla and Istanbul, will go a long way towards helping the tourism sector meet and exceed targets for 2023. The increasing number of airports (12 new airports in the last five years), investments in transportation infrastructure, the rapid growth of Turkish Airlines, and government grants have all played a role in the expansion of hotel properties in Turkey. There are currently 281 projects in the pipeline that would add 74,130 much needed beds to Turkey’s short supply. As a result of being the 6th most popular tourism destination in the world, many global
hotel chains have targeted the country for growth. In 2014, there were more than 165 hotel chains in Turkey, with 15 percent of these hotels being owned by international investors. Total turnover of the tourism industry exceeded USD 34 billion in 2014, an increase of 6 percent compared to the previous year.
According to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the number of foreign travelers arriving in Turkey in 2014 was 39.8 million, up 5 percent compared to 2013 and a good 200 percent better than the 2002 numbers. Antalya is the most preferred city in Turkey based on the number of incoming foreign visitors. Visited by 34 percent of the foreign tourists, Antalya has over 500 4-star and 5-star hotels in its center and surrounding towns such as Kemer, Belek and Kas. Following Antalya, Istanbul hosted 32 percent of the foreign tourists, while the capital, Ankara, saw 1 percent of the tourists. Along the Aegean coast, Mugla hosted 9 percent of foreign visitors, followed by Izmir and Aydin
with 4 percent and 2 percent respectively. Further inland, Denizli – home of Pamukkale – and Nevsehir – home of Cappadocia – each hosted 3 percent of the visitors.
Looking at the tourism infrastructure, by the end of 2014 there were 13,436 registered accommodation facilities. 9,188 of these facilities were licensed by their respective municipalities, while the remaining 4,248 held tourism operation licenses. The combined total bed capacity of these facilities exceeds 1,250,000.
In terms of geothermal tourism potential, Turkey is among the top seven countries in the world and ranks 1st in Europe with its 1,500 thermal springs. Bed capacity in the various thermal spa resorts has reached a combined 55.140.
Turkey is also an emerging destination for golf tourism with 15 tourism operation licensed golf resorts. Most golf courses in Turkey use Bermuda grass, which is perfect for a Mediterranean climate and can be used for more than a decade. Turkish Airlines continues to make impressive strides in the world of golf by sponsoring and supporting several prestigious professional and amateur events. The Turkish Airlines World Golf Cup was launched in 2013 and spans 12 cities globally. The company has also entered its 5th year sponsoring the Turkish Airlines Ladies Open, one of the Ladies European Tour’s most popular events. In 2015, Europe’s finest golfers and many greats from elsewhere around the world will head to Turkey for the Turkish Airlines Open presented by the
Ministry of Youth and Sports.
Here are some of the essential facts and figures in the Turkish tourism sector:
The tourism sector has set annual targets of 50 million tourist arrivals and revenues of USD 50 billion by 2023.Growth in the Turkish tourism industry has been above the global average in recent years and the direct contribution of the industry to the GDP reached USD 34 billion in 2014.
Turkey is the 6th most popular tourist destination in the world with an ever-increasing number of visitors. From 2002 to 2014, the number of international tourist arrivals increased 200 percent, reaching more than 39.8 million foreign visitors.
By the end of 2014, there were 13,436 registered accommodation facilities in Turkey. 9,188 of these were municipality-licensed and 4,248 held tourism operation licenses. The total combined bed capacity exceeds 1,250,000. In terms of geothermal tourism potential, Turkey is among the top seven countries in the world and ranks 1st in Europe with its 1,500 thermal springs. Bed availability in thermal vacation resorts has reached 55,140.
Turkey has 7,200 km of coastline and ranks 2nd among 38 countries with its 436 blue-flag beaches; only Spain has more blue-flag beaches with 578. There are also 22 blue-flag marinas in Turkey.
Turkey is an emerging destination for golf tourism, with 15 tourism operation licensed golf resorts. Most golf courses in Turkey use Bermuda grass, which is perfect for a Mediterranean climate and can be used for more than a decade.Owing to its increasing global connectivity, due in no small part to its favorable geographical position, Istanbul is very much the center of attention with its recent rise to the 5th most visited city according to MasterCard Global Destinations Cities Index 2015
(With over 11.8 million foreign and domestic visitors annually).
It is not just tourism driving the growth of visitors to Istanbul; the city remains a preferred site for hosting international meetings. The International Congress and Convention Association’s (ICCA) Country and City Rankings Report for 2014 saw Istanbul
maintain its top 10 position as a global congress destination. Ranking 9th in the world in 2014 with 130 congresses, Istanbul has now held a top 10 position since 2010.
The Turkish tourism sector continues to grow at a rate that outstrips its bed capacity and even though there has been a surge of investments in the last several years, there is still ample room for new investments. Eastern and Southeastern Anatolia both have untapped potential for culture tourism as well as the increasingly popular boutique hotel
concept that blends well with the regions’ characteristic nature, history and culture.
The Turkish government offers incentives and pursues policies that offer reduced utility prices and reduced tax rates while decisively eliminating any bureaucratic barriers that may hinder sectorial growth. The combined efforts of the government and industry organizations have already enabled the rise of investment in new areas, such as construction of large convention and expo centers that have contributed to a boom in the events industry, particularly in the country’s largest city, Istanbul.
As mentioned above, the country is the 6th most popular tourist destination in the world and is well on its way to attracting more than 40 million tourists annually within the next couple of years. With its favorable location, existing potential, mega projects, and ambitious targets for 2023, Turkey offers great opportunities for investors by combining a large tourism sector with growing commercial and infrastructure output.