Foreign holidaymakers, led by Europe, continue to flock to Antalya, helping the Mediterranean gem of Türkiye experience its busiest summer since the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.
The southern resort town has seen around 8.5 million foreigners arrive so far this year, already approaching the 9 million who have arrived throughout 2021. That figure peaked in 2019, dubbed the best tourist season in all time, when arrivals reached 16 million, before the crisis. caused by the pandemic.
This year’s big rebound has been driven by influxes of tourists from Europe, particularly Germany and the UK, in addition to arrivals from Russia, whose invasion of Ukraine had sparked fears in vital industry.
This summer season, Antalya is experiencing a boom in demand that has accumulated as a result of the pandemic, according to the President of the Association of Mediterranean Hoteliers and Tourism Investors (AKTOB), Erkan Yağcı.
Yağcı stressed that they expect to approach the peak levels seen in 2019. “When we look from January to today, we have reached 90% to 95% of the 2019 figures during the peak season. If it continues like this, we can get closer to the figures of 2019,” he told Anadolu Agency (AA).
Turkey itself attracted more than 23 million foreign visitors from January to July, growing 128 percent annually, according to official data, paving the way for $37 billion in tourism revenue sought by the government.
Arrivals were mainly supported by Russian visitors who opted for Türkiye due to Western flight restrictions related to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The number of German and British visitors also increased sharply.
“The UK is on its way to becoming a source market,” Yağcı said. “The UK market has made a significant comeback. This year we will have welcomed nearly one million British guests to Antalya. It is extremely important.
He highlighted the country’s efforts to diversify markets, saying that “our main goals are to increase the number of tourists to other markets such as Poland, the Netherlands and Belgium. We are in a period where our basic strategies established before the pandemic have been revived. »
From January to July, Germans were Türkiye’s top source market with 2.99 million visitors, followed by 2.2 million Russians and 1.8 million Britons, according to data from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. Tourism.
Despite concerns over the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the government raised its year-end target last month to 47 million tourists and $37 billion in revenue from 45 million arrivals and $35 billion in revenue.
The current trend has somewhat taken away the panic of the start of the season, said Volkan Yorulmaz, director of the Kemer Promotion Foundation. Kemer is one of the most popular districts of Antalya.
Yorulmaz said the 8 million figure was surpassed in early August, which he said reaffirms his expectation of 12 million by the end of the year.
He pointed out that the summer season has been extended, partly due to market diversification, and that they expected a buoyant November. Yorlumaz cited a big jump in the markets which, to some extent, managed to offset the loss resulting from the war in Ukraine.
“There are serious increases in Polish, Czech, Serbian, German and British tourists. This year we have seen that it is not only necessary to do tourism based on Ukraine and Russia, and that it can be achieved. We must continue this. »
Buoyed by COVID-19 easing measures, the number of overseas visitors soared 94.1% to 24.71 million last year. Tourism revenue doubled to nearly $25 billion, but remained well below the level recorded in 2019.
Russians and Ukrainians were the country’s first and third largest source of visitors, respectively. Russians accounted for 19% of foreign tourists, with 4.7 million people, while Ukraine was the third largest at 8.3%, with 2.1 million people.
Authorities had hoped tourism this year could match or surpass figures from 2019, when some 52 million visitors – including around 7 million Russians and 1.6 million Ukrainians – brought in $34 billion in revenue.