Tourism in Turkey

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Pamukkale in Turkey is a World Heritage Site. Turkey has 622 National Parks

Tourism in Turkey is focused largely on a variety of historical sites, and on seaside resorts along its Aegean and Mediterranean Sea coasts. Turkey has also become a popular destination for culture, spa, and health care.[citation needed]

Number of international tourist arrivals

At its height in 2019, Turkey attracted around 51 million foreign tourists,[1] ranking as the sixth-most-popular tourist destination in the world.[2] The total number fluctuated between around 41 million in 2015, and around 30 million in 2016.[3][4] However, recovery began in 2017, with the number of foreign visitors increasing to 37.9 million, and in 2018 to 46.1 million visitors[5][6][7]



Dolmabahçe Palace is a popular tourism destination in Turkey.

Istanbul is one of the most important tourism spots not only in Turkey but also in the world. There are thousands of hotels and other tourist-oriented industries in the city. Turkey's largest city, Istanbul has a number of major attractions derived from its historical status as capital of the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. These include the Sultan Ahmed Mosque (the "Blue Mosque"), the Hagia Sophia, the Topkapı Palace, the Basilica Cistern, the Dolmabahçe Palace, the Galata Tower, the Grand Bazaar, the Spice Bazaar, and the Pera Palace Hotel. Istanbul has also recently become one of the biggest shopping centers of the European region by hosting malls and shopping centers, such as Metrocity, Akmerkez and Cevahir Mall, which is the biggest mall in Europe and seventh largest shopping center in the world. Other attractions include sporting events, museums, and cultural events.

In January 2013, the Turkish government announced that it would build the world's largest airport in Istanbul. The operation has an invested 7-billion euros and was planned to have the first part of a four-part plan completed by 2017.[8]

As a consequence of the continuous fall in tourism to Turkey in recent years, as of October 2016 in Istanbul's famous bazaar once crowded shopping streets are not as crowded as before, "the streams of tourists who used to visit the market each day have trickled to a halt."[3] The number of foreign tourists visiting Istanbul declined to 9.2 million in 2016, a 26 percent decrease compared to 2015.[9]

Other destinations[edit]

Beach vacations and Blue Cruises, particularly for Turkish delights and visitors from Western Europe, are also central to the Turkish tourism industry. Most beach resorts are located along the southwestern and southern coast, called the Turkish Riviera, especially along the Mediterranean coast near Antalya. Antalya is also accepted as the tourism capital of Turkey.[10] Major resort towns include Bodrum, Fethiye, Marmaris, Kuşadası, Çeşme, Didim and Alanya. Also Turkey has been chosen second in the world in 2015 with its 436 blue-flagged beaches, according to the Chamber of Shipping.[11]

Attractions elsewhere in the country include the sites of Ephesus, Troy, Pergamon, House of the Virgin Mary, Pamukkale, Hierapolis, Trabzon (where one of the oldest monasteries is the Sümela Monastery), Konya (where the poet Rumi had spent most of his life), Didyma, Church of Antioch, ancient Pontic capital and king rock tombs with its acropolis in Amasya, religious places in Mardin (such as Deyrülzafarân Monastery), and the ruined cities and landscapes of Cappadocia.

Diyarbakır is also an important historic city, although tourism is on a relatively small level due to waning armed conflicts.

Ankara has an historic old town, and although it is not exactly a tourist city, is usually a stop for travelers en route to Cappadocia. The city enjoys an excellent cultural life, too, and has several museums. The Anıtkabir is also in Ankara. It is the mausoleum of Atatürk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey.

Gallipoli and Anzac Cove – a small cove on the Gallipoli peninsula, which became known as the site of World War I landing of the ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) on 25 April 1915. Following the landing at Anzac Cove, the beach became the main base for the Australian and New Zealand troops for the eight months of the Gallipoli campaign.

Cappadocia is a region created by the erosion of soft volcanic stone by the wind and rain for centuries.[12] The area is a popular tourist destination, having many sites with unique geological, historic, and cultural features.

Development of tourism[edit]

Visa policy of Turkey
  Unlimited stay
  Visa-free - 90 days
  Visa-free - 60 days
  Visa-free - 30 days
  eVisa - 90 days (multiple entries)
  eVisa - 30 days (single entry)
  eVisa - 30 days (Conditional)
  Visa required in advance
Uzungöl lake and town in Black Sea region
Statues of Mount Nemrut in Eastern Turkey
Hagia Sophia in Istanbul attracts around 3 million tourists each year.

Foreign tourist arrivals increased substantially in Turkey between 2000 and 2005, from 8 million to 25 million, which made Turkey a top-10 destination in the world for foreign visitors. 2005 revenues were US$20.3 billion which also made Turkey one of the top-10 biggest revenue owners in the world. In 2011, Turkey ranked as the 6th most popular tourist destination in the world and 4th in Europe, according to UNWTO World Tourism barometer.[13] See World Tourism rankings. At its height in 2014, Turkey attracted around 42 million foreign tourists, still ranking as the 6th most popular tourist destination in the world.[2] From 2015, tourism to Turkey entered a steep decline.[14][15] In 2016, only around 30 million people visited Turkey. 2016 is described as the second year of huge losses on both visitor numbers and income, a "year of devastating losses", with Turkish tourism businesses stating that they "cannot remember a worse time in the sector".[3] The number of foreign visitors started recovering in 2017 with 37.9 million visitors being recorded. The recovery was partly due to intense security campaigns and advertising. The number of Russian tourists increased by 444% after the recovery of bilateral relations, resulting in Russia becoming the top tourism market for Turkey once again.[5][6] Increases were also recorded in the British, Dutch and Belgian markets.[16]

In early 2017, the Turkish government urged Turkish citizens living abroad to take their vacations in Turkey, attempting to revive the struggling tourism sector[17] of an economy that went into contraction from late 2016.[18] After the April 2017 constitutional referendum, another sharp drop in tourist bookings from Germany was recorded.[19] In 2018, however, the German Tourism Industry Association recorded a growth in German tourist bookings for Turkey, with a 70% increase being recorded by the TUI Group alone.[20]

Foreign visitor arrivals[edit]

Most tourist arrivals in Turkey come from the following countries:[21][22][7][23][24]

Rank Country 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015
1  Russia Increase 7,017,657 Increase 5,964,631 Increase 4,715,438 Decrease 866,256 3,649,003
2  Germany Increase 5,027,472 Increase 4,512,360 Decrease 3,584,653 Decrease 3,890,074 5,580,792
3  Bulgaria Increase 2,713,464 Increase 2,386,885 Increase 1,852,867 Decrease 1,690,766 1,821,480
4  United Kingdom Increase 2,562,064 Increase 2,254,871 Decrease 1,658,715 Decrease 1,711,481 2,512,139
5  Iran Increase 2,102,890 Decrease 2,001,744 Increase 2,501,948 Decrease 1,665,160 1,700,385
6  Georgia Decrease 1,995,254 Decrease 2,069,392 Increase 2,438,730 Increase 2,206,266 1,911,832
7  Ukraine Increase 1,547,996 Increase 1,386,934 Increase 1,284,735 Increase 1,045,043 706,551
8  Iraq Increase 1,374,896 Increase 1,172,896 Increase 896,876 Decrease 420,831 1,094,144
9  Netherlands Increase 1,117,290 Increase 1,013,642 Decrease 799,006 Decrease 906,336 1,232,487
10  Azerbaijan Increase 901,723 Increase 858,506 Increase 765,514 Increase 606,223 602,488
11  Poland Increase 880,839 Increase 646,365 Increase 296,120 Decrease 205,701 550,779
12  France Increase 875,957 Increase 731,379 Increase 578,524 Decrease 555,151 847,259
13  Greece Increase 836,882 Increase 686,891 Increase 623,705 Decrease 593,150 755,414
14  Romania Increase 763,320 Increase 641,484 Increase 423,868 Decrease 357,473 441,097
15  United States Increase 578,074 Increase 448,327 Decrease 329,257 Decrease 459,493 798,787
16  Palestine Increase 569,368 Increase 443,732 Increase 380,415 Increase 293,988 224,568
17  Saudi Arabia Decrease 564,816 Increase 747,233 Increase 651,170 Increase 530,410 450,674
18  Belgium Increase 557,435 Increase 511,559 Increase 419,998 Decrease 413,614 617,406
19  Jordan Increase 474,874 Increase 406,469 Increase 277,729 Increase 203,179 162,866
20  Kazakhstan Increase 455,724 Increase 426,916 Increase 402,830 Decrease 240,188 423,744
21  Sweden Increase 444,285 Increase 384,397 Increase 289,134 Decrease 320,580 624,649
22  China Increase 426,344 Increase 394,109 Increase 247,277 Decrease 167,570 313,704
23  Austria Increase 401,475 Increase 353,628 Decrease 287,746 Decrease 310,946 486,044
24  Italy Increase 377,011 Increase 284,195 Decrease 205,788 Decrease 213,227 507,897
25  Lebanon Increase 376,721 Increase 338,837 Increase 237,476 Decrease 191,642 197,552
26  Kuwait Increase 374,191 Increase 298,620 Increase 255,644 Increase 179,938 174,486
27  Denmark Increase 335,877 Increase 326,278 Decrease 269,026 Decrease 329,618 408,841
28  Czech Republic Increase 311,359 Increase 228,251 Increase 126,567 Decrease 87,328 212,464
29   Switzerland Increase 311,107 Decrease 269,649 Decrease 206,479 Decrease 215,194 380,338
30  Turkmenistan Increase 297,706 Increase 252,911 Increase 230,881 Decrease 165,762 174,330
31  Algeria Increase 295,512 Increase 288,207 Increase 213,333 Increase 176,233 171,873
32  Serbia Increase 282,347 Increase 225,312 Increase 146,852 Decrease 110,594 178,997
33  Cyprus Increase 268,341 Increase 266,859 Increase 256,059 Decrease 233,181 246,245
34  Libya Increase 259,243 Increase 188,312 Increase 99,395 Decrease 72,014 234,762
35  Belarus Increase 258,419 Increase 245,254 Increase 229,229 Decrease 113,793 204,355
36  Spain Increase 257,342 Increase 178,018 Increase 106,757 Decrease 106,582 236,063
37  Uzbekistan Increase 252,138 Increase 241,235 Increase 195,745 Decrease 134,330 143,331
38  Morocco Increase 234,264 Increase 176,538 Increase 114,155 Decrease 87,660 109,775
39  India Increase 230,131 Increase 147,127 Increase 86,996 Decrease 79,316 131,869
40  Lithuania Increase 229,704 Increase 199,371 Increase 134,264 Decrease 109,749 112,654
Total Increase 51,747,198 Increase 46,112,592 Increase 37,969,824 Decrease 30,906,680 41,114,069

Issues of Turkish government image in tourist origin countries[edit]

Marmaris in Turkey is a popular summer tourism destination.

After months of detention of journalists and political activists including foreigners in Turkey, the government of Germany in July 2017 issued a travel warning to its citizens.[25] It was also reported that Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan had offered to release detained German citizens of Turkish descent in exchange for delivery of Turks who had been granted political asylum in Germany.[26]

Government policy and regulation[edit]

The AKP government has been promoting "halal tourism" for years,[27] politically reaffirming this stance over the course of 2016.[28] In March 2017, a Turkish court banned global travel fare aggregator website from offering services to Turkish tourists for lack of a national licence,[29] while the Hoteliers Association of Turkey campaigns for a lifting the ban of the enterprise on which its members relied for up to 90 percent of their turnover.[30] In April 2017, the police department of the prime resort city of Antalya issued a directive banning the consumption of alcohol outside of buildings.[31]

Sex tourism[edit]

Prostitution is legal and regulated in Turkey. The secularization of Turkish society allowed prostitution to achieve legal status during the early 20th century. Sex tourism has been part of Turkey's tourism industry and has been growing over the decades both for foreigners and locals. Many foreigners come to Turkey to work for local Turks in the prostitution business, while many Turks travel abroad as consumers of sex tourism, mostly to Eastern Europe for the purpose.[32]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Rekord: 51,9 Millionen Urlauber besuchten die Türkei 2019 - Hü - Wirtschaft". Archived from the original on 18 February 2020.
  2. ^ a b "42 million tourists visit Turkey in 2014". Retrieved 6 July 2016.
  3. ^ a b c "Turkey's tourism industry reels from a year to forget". The Guardian. 5 October 2016.
  4. ^ "Turkish–German ties at historic low, says scholar Faruk Şen". Hürriyet Daily News. 21 November 2016. Archived from the original on 16 December 2019.
  5. ^ a b "32.4 mln foreigners visit Turkey in 2017: Tourism Ministry". Hürriyet Daily News. Retrieved 12 February 2018.
  6. ^ a b "Tourism in Turkey starts recovery". ITIJ. Retrieved 12 February 2018.
  8. ^ Maierbrugger, Arno (25 January 2013). "Turkey plans world's biggest airport". Inside Investor. Retrieved 17 May 2013.
  9. ^ "Number of foreign tourists visiting Istanbul plunges for first time in 16 years". Hürriyet Daily News. 6 January 2017.
  10. ^ Tilic, L. Dogan (5 April 2010). "Antalya: The Tourism Capital of Turkey". European Business Review. Retrieved 28 January 2011.
  11. ^ "Turkey rich in 'blue flags' – TRAVEL". Hürriyet Daily News. 13 September 2011. Retrieved 15 October 2016.
  12. ^ "Capadocia" (PDF).
  13. ^ "2012 Tourism Highlights" (PDF). UNWTO. June 2012. Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 July 2012. Retrieved 17 June 2012.
  14. ^ Kafanov, Lucy (19 August 2015). "Violence costing Turkey precious tourism, even far from the fighting". The Christian Science Monitor.
  15. ^ "4.9 pct less tourists in Turkey in June". DailySabah. 29 July 2015. Retrieved 15 November 2015.
  16. ^ "It is now time for Turkey's tourism sector to raise revenue". Hürriyet Daily News. Retrieved 12 February 2018.
  17. ^ "Erdoğan calls on citizens abroad: 'Come to Turkey for vacation'". Hürriyet Daily News. 2 February 2017. Retrieved 2 February 2017.
  18. ^ "Turkey's Economy Contracts for First Time Since 2009". The Wall Street Journal. 12 December 2016. Retrieved 2 February 2017.
  19. ^ "German travelers booking in Spain, Greece instead of Turkey: Association". Hürriyet Daily News. 21 April 2017.
  20. ^ "Turkey hopes for German comeback". FVW. Retrieved 12 February 2018.
  21. ^ Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Republic of Turkey. "Number of Arriving-Departing Foreigners and Citizens, December 2016". Retrieved 16 May 2017.
  23. ^ "Tourism Receipts-Expenditures (2003-2019)".
  24. ^ "2019". Retrieved 24 March 2022.
  25. ^ "Bundesregierung verschärft Reisehinweise für Türkei" (in German). DER SPIEGEL. 20 July 2017.
  26. ^ "Erdogan soll Austausch von Yücel gegen Ex-Generäle angeboten haben" (in German). DER SPIEGEL. 20 July 2017.
  27. ^ "Turkey sees rise in halal tourism". BBC. 25 August 2014.
  28. ^ "How Turkey plans to boost halal tourism". Al Monitor. 9 May 2016. Archived from the original on 17 January 2018. Retrieved 28 April 2017.
  29. ^ "Turkey has banned but the website isn't backing down". The Independent. 30 March 2017.
  30. ^ "Turkish hotelier association asks court to lift ban on". Hürriyet Daily News. 6 April 2017.
  31. ^ "Statement on alcohol ban in outdoor locations in Turkey's Antalya sparks debate". Hürriyet Daily News. 28 April 2017.
  32. ^ "Tourism's dark side: Child sexual abuse in Turkey".

Requirements for Urgent Visa for Turkey

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]