Turkey says it has strengthened its position as a top holiday destination for GCC nationals and residents and as a result it has seen increased interest from tourists from the region over the past few years.
According to new figures released by the Turkish Consulate General Cultural and Information Office in Dubai shows that there was 27 per cent increase in the number of tourists travelling to Turkey from the region over the 2014-2016 time period.
In 2016, a total of 822,849 holiday makers from the GCC visited Turkey’s many destinations.
Moreover, a whopping 300,000 tourists from the UAE, both nationals and residents, made trips to Turkey during the year.
“This growth shows the Turkey is culturally and economically interesting for GCC travellers,” said Salih Ozer, Attaché of Culture and Information, Turkey to the UAE.
“Over the past year, we have conducted many workshops and seminars for our GCC travel agents to get them better acquainted with what Turkey has to offer the GCC traveller.”
“We attach a great level of importance to these deepening relations between Turkey and the Gulf countries,“ continued Ozer.
“The UAE, in particular, continues to contribute heavily to Turkey’s tourist numbers, and we have taken many steps to simplify GCC tourist access to Turkey by facilitating visas for them in a quicker fashion.”
“Turkey is one of the top tourism destinations in the world based on the number of tourists and revenues. Whether its nature and the outdoors, history and archeology or beaches and relaxation, travelers from everywhere in the GCC can find their unique experience in Turkey.
“From Istanbul to Pamukkale, Cappadocia and Bursa in the west, Trabzon and Ayder on the shores of the Black Sea, to Antalya, Bodrum and Maramis to the south the country, Turkey’s unique offerings are unparalleled in the region,” Ozer added.
UAE favourite for travellers
Meanwhile, the UAE has once again named as one of the world’s most competitive economies for travel and tourism in a report from the World Economic Forum (WEF).
The report ranks the UAE the 29th most competitive globally. The UAE is followed by Qatar in the overall ranking for the Middle East, with Bahrain, Israel and Saudi Arabia bagging the rest of the top five. Rounding up the top ten most competitive economies for travel and tourism in the region are Oman, Jordan, Iran, Lebanon and Kuwait.
The UAE, which welcomed millions of foreign guests in 2015, has been ranked number one in the Middle East region for business environment, safety and security, human resources, transport infrastructure, ICT readiness and international openness, among many others.
The UAE’s business environment has been ranked fifth best overall, while its safety and security has been rated second best in the world, next to Finland.
It was announced early this year that the UAE will grant visas on arrival to visiting Russians, among the biggest contributors to travel and tourism spending in the country.
The UAE’s overall ranking in the WEF report, however, fell by a few places because other destinations, such as South Korea and Greece, have performed exceptionally well during the review period.
“The United Arab Emirates continues to offer an outstanding business environment to invest in travel and tourism activities (ranked 5th globally), with advanced ICT readiness (15th best in the world) and one of the best air transport infrastructures in the world (3rd), in terms of both connectivity and quality of the service,” said the report.
“It is also one of the most secure destinations (2nd), and has a well-developed hospitality and entertainment infrastructure (27th).”
The WEF report also noted that, while some countries still have very restrictive visa policies, there is a growing number of destinations that have loosened their requirements, making it now easier for travellers to visit destinations and stimulating global tourism and trade in the process.
“The travel and tourism industry continues building bridges rather than walls between people travelling across borders and global trends towards adopting less restrictive visa policies,” the report states.
Not only will emerging destinations like the Middle East become larger source markets, but they will also become more attractive destinations.