Turkey will promote a broader cross-section of its tourism offering over the next three years in an effort to shift focus away from mass market all-inclusive travel, while driving higher tourism spend.
The country will next year bring to market a number of new tourism “routes” exploring the nation’s ancient history, culture and religion, as well as its gastronomy, wellness and outdoor activities.
It follows the creation this year of a new centralised Tourism Promotion and Development Agency of Turkey, the first in its history, comprising a concerted public-private sector collaboration. Its aim is to attract 75 million visitors by 2023.
Speaking to TTG at WTM London, general manager Timucin Guler admitted with seven of the top 10 countries by tourism revenue pursuing similar arrangements, Turkey had been slow off the mark, but stressed the agency would be backed with significant investment and would leverage the expertise of the private sector.
He revealed the country’s promotional budget had grown from $18 million in 2018 to $72 million this year and would extend to $180 million in 2020, eventually topping out at around $220 million by 2023.
Moreover, Guler said while Turkey is aiming to significantly increase package tour rates from 15% to 60%, its focus would go beyond promoting Turkey as an “all-inclusive package holiday place”.
Guler said developing Turkey’s digital channels to promote its tourism offering was key to its 2023 strategy; it has created 24 “Turkish Stories” highlighting several aspects of Turkey’s more mainstream tourism offering, and a further 20 videos focusing on the country’s history and culture. These, said Guler, put particular emphasis on sound rather than just backing them with music.
New “routes”, meanwhile, include a “taste map of Turkey”; various road and off-road cycling tours; and a “digital faith map and faith portal” for Turkey. Other focuses range from promoting its wellness provision to its "developed" health tourism sector.
On the collapse of Thomas Cook, Guler said Turkey had been able to replace all lost Cook capacity within seven to 10 days of the operator’s collapse on 23 September, adding the country had since sourced additional capacity, off the back of the launch of Istanbul’s new airport, to boost destinations such as Antalya and Dalaman.
“We will increase our capacity next year,” said Guler. “We will exceed capacity lost from Thomas Cook. We acted very quickly, and the issue has been dealt with. We don’t have any problems with capacity or slots.”
While Turkey’s core markets remain Russia, Germany and the UK, Guler said the country was making inroads in Eastern Europe, and in long-haul markets such as the US, Japan, India, China and Korea. Guler added Turkey’s ambition was to ensure its visitor numbers were sustainable and replicable.