Turkish delights attracting GCC tourists

Rise in Gulf tourists sees the southern Mediterranean state focus on GCC at the forthcoming Arabian Travel Market.

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By  John Irish Published  March 13, 2003

With intra-Arab tourism on the rise and destinations in Europe and the US becoming less appealing to Arab tourists, Turkey is set to capitalise on growing inbound tourism traffic from the Gulf after its Tourism Authority announced a 50% increase in GCC visitors in 2002 over the previous year.

In the first nine months of 2002, the former Ottoman state saw 44,819 visitors from the GCC of which Saudi Arabia produced the majority with 23,420. Kuwait produced 6,552, the UAE 5,542, Bahrain, 3,902, Oman, 1100 and Qatar 761.

“The Middle East still only accounts for 1.66% of Turkey’s total tourism arrivals," said Hasan Zongur, information attaché at the Kuwait-based Turkish Tourism and Information Office.

“When you take into consideration the size of the Middle East region and the numbers of people going abroad every year, the percentage of arrivals remains low. In the coming years our target is to increase tourism arrivals from the Middle East to about 10% of Turkey’s total tourism market.”

As a response to these latest figures, Turkey intends to mount its biggest ever promotion at the Arabian Travel Market, the Middle East’s annual travel and tourism show, which is scheduled to be held in Dubai from May 6-9.

“We are tremendously optimistic about this year’s event not least because the Arab Ministers of Tourism summit will be held in the UAE at the same time as the show,” Matt Thompson, group exhibition director, overseas events, Reed Travel Exhibitions (RTE), which organises the Arabian Travel Market.

“We think the summit will enhance overall interest in the regional tourism industry, which will benefit the show and we also hope the ministers will attend the official inauguration of Arabian Travel Market 2003.”

Turkey is among 12 official national tourism organisations to confirm pavilions for the event, which, so far, has contracted exhibitors from 35 countries.

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