By Elif Ferhan Yesilyurt
The number of foreign visitors to Turkey is expected to see a record high in 2018, according to experts and politicians.
While the country hosted 36.8 million foreigners in 2014 and 36.3 million in 2015, the figure decreased sharply to 25.3 million in 2016 but rose again to 32.4 million last year, according to the Turkish Statistical Institute data.
“Turkey will see 40 million foreign visitors, and its income will climb over $30 billion by the end of 2018,” Association of Turkish Travel Agencies (TURSAB) President Firuz Baglikaya told Anadolu Agency.
Baglikaya said the number of foreign visitors, which increased by 34.91 percent, year-on-year, in the first two months, indicates the target of 40 million tourists would be achieved this year.
Turkey welcomed 3 million foreign visitors in the first two months of 2018 during its winter period, according to the Culture and Tourism Ministry.
Reservation demand for 2018 summer period was also positive, he said.
“Demands from Germany and Russia, which are Turkey’s main tourism market, are very positive. Germany’s demands increased by 60 percent and Russia by 30 percent.”
Turkey also expects the number of visitors from U.K. and the Netherland to rise in 2018, he said, adding that Turkey’s southern province Antalya and Aegean region are the leading tourist destinations in the country.
Previously, Deputy Culture and Tourism Minister Huseyin Yayman said Turkey had entered a period of stagnation in the tourism sector after the Fetullah Terrorist Organization’s (FETO)’s defeated coup in 2016 but the sector improved in 2017.
“Turkey’s 2018 target is 40 million foreign tourists,” Yayman said.
Etem Hakan Duran, president of the Professional Hotel Managers Association of Turkey, also said reservations had increased in 2018 compared with last year.
“Turkey’s Europe tourism market will rise 15-20 percent and the country will host 38 million guests in this year.”
Culture and Tourism Minister Numan Kurtulmus had said Turkey’s 2023 targets for tourism sector are 50 million tourists and $50 billion income.
*Gokhan Ergocun contributed to this story from Ankara.