Slowdown in global markets makes Turkey popular tourism destination
With travel agencies seeking new touristic markets as a result of the ongoing economic slowdown in Europe's largest tourism destinations such as Italy, Spain and Greece, Ekin Fair Organization Director Hacer Aydın has told Today's Zaman that Turkey has become the number one destination on these companies' lists.

Ekin Fair organizes the annual Eastern Mediterranean International Travel and Tourism Exhibition (EMITT) in İstanbul, which is Europe's fifth largest tourism and travel exhibition. Aydın recalled that travel expenses are first ones to go up or down during times of economic difficulties and said the same occurred after the economic crises in Europe and political crises in the Middle East. "Harsh economic measures that have implemented and soaring unemployment figures in Europe have lead to a significant decline in the amount of income individuals have spare for leisure activities. A serious decrease in tourism and travel spending was also seen. A similar situation has been seen in the Middle Eastern countries that have experienced political turmoil and uncertainty has led people to cut down on extra expenses," she explained.

Aydın stated that the declining trends in tourism markets in Europe have led to increased interest in Turkey's tourism sector as it is the number one reason for a record number of participation registrations at the 17th EMITT fair that will be held in January. She added that EMITT hosted about 65 countries at this year's event. However, it expects participants from over 70 countries to attend the upcoming event in 2013.

According to Aydın, these travel agencies and tourism investors have two destinations lists; one list consisting of priority countries and other of countries that are generally people's second preferences. The countries included in the second list are usually less-visited countries. "Turkey was included on the second list but there has been a shift as Turkey's star has been rising as a result of economic growth and stability," she stated.

Furthermore, she explained that the number of Turkish people traveling abroad has also increased, which has drawn the attention of countries who want to attract tourists. She stated that 8.9 million Turkish international travelers in 2008 became 12.1 million in 2011. She commented, "The income of 12 million people in Turkey is equal to European standards, while 3.4 million Turks have an annual income over $40,000 and 3.5 million have annual income over $9,000."

Speaking on the potential figures regarding business trips, she noted there are over 3.5 million small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) that employ between 10 to 50 workers and almost half of these firms have export operations which require international travel at least four times a year.

In addition, she noted that those countries who want to attract Middle Eastern tourists also come to Turkish fairs to find customers, increasing importance of EMITT.

(Cihan/Today's Zaman) CİHAN
Last Modified: 2012-12-20 20:00:02
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