Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken

Dutch Diplo Talk

Tourism in Turkey: more than meets the eye

2 Sep 2015

We ourselves are tourist. Discovering the world is in our DNA.  Sometimes we just wish to be away from it all, leaving one’s home country and enjoy the country of one’s (distant) neighbour. Last year, travel and tourism directly and indirectly contributed to almost 10% of the worldwide GDP, employing over 260 million people. These impressive figures are bound to increase as tourism will continue to outpace overall economic growth.

In 2014 over 1.2 billion tourists travelled to other countries. Turkey received over 41 million of them, making it the 6th most popular tourist destination. It is likely to soon overtake Italy and Spain, although the present political unrest in the region most likely will negatively impact the number of tourists in 2015.

Turkey and China
For me, China and Turkey are the two countries with most touristic potential of all. Beautiful beaches and palm trees one finds in many countries; also in Turkey that was awarded 436 blue flags for its clean beaches in 2015, the second highest in the world. However, Turkey, just like China, has so much more, including incredible natural phenomena’s and a very rich and diverse history. There is beautiful and impressive Istanbul, which would have been the world capital, had Napoleon succeeded in conquering the world. And don’t forget for example Pamukkale, Mount Ararat, Cappadocia or Mount Nemrut.

Vital economic importance
Tourism is of vital importance for Turkey. Not only from an employment perspective, but also for its contribution to the balance of payment. Without the 10’s of billions tourist Euro’s earned annually, the Turkish deficit of the goods and services balance, which is dangerously high, would have been untenable.

Development of the tourism sector is therefor one of the long term priorities of the Turkish government. It heavely invests in general infrastructure. An example is the support to Turkish Airlines, which has the most international destinations in the world. Another example is the construction of the new airport, which is scheduled to receive 150 million arrivals every year.

Tourism will continue to grow in Turkey; there is so much that still can be developed. I see huge potential in golf, eco-tourism, sports, cultural holidays, adventure tours, health and spa facilities, conferences (now only ranking #19 in the world) and cruises (Istanbul is still lacking an up-to-date cruise terminal).

Opportunities for Dutch business
The travel and tourism sector in Turkey offers a lot of possibilities to the Dutch, also because annually there are 1.2 million arrivals from The Netherlands, putting us on the 6th spot, just behind Bulgaria and Georgia. Istanbul already has some excellent Dutch chefs, and, as everywhere in the world, there are efficient Dutch hotel managers. The Dutch are furthermore active in travel tours (guides, Corendon) and many own smaller hotels all over the country.

Political unrest
And the present political unrest? This plays a role of course, but as we see all around the world, fortunately politics in general only has a short impact and does not influence the longer term potential. The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs has a travel advice for each country, including Turkey. Always check this one out.

By the way #Turkeytravelling

I am producing a book for expats, on day- and short trips outside Istanbul. Most of these attractive places are unknown, both to foreigners and local Turks. See #Turkeytravelling. Enjoy.

This blog was previously published on Robert

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About the author

Robert Schuddeboom
Written by Robert Schuddeboom

Dutch Consul General in Istanbul

Irregularly I write about Turkey, a fascinating country.