Turkish inbound tourism regains ground

The tide is now turning for the market as tourists venture back – 21.9 million of them in the first eight months of 2017, a 25.4% rise on the same period in 2016.


The ban on charter flights between Russia and Turkey starting in November 2015 had an enormous impact on the market in 2016 and the number of Russian tourists had fallen.

With the ban now lifted, Russian tourists have been surging back, making Turkey Russia’s number 1 destination for holidays abroad in the first half of 2017.

"The flow of tourists to Turkey increased significantly this year due to lifting restrictions that were introduced earlier for charter flights. We estimate that about 1.6 million people have visited Turkey in the first six months of 2017, while there were just 168,000 people in the same period last year,” Alexander Novak, Russian Energy Minister told Rossiya 24 news channel.

After such promising results, Osman Sober, Head of the Turkish Hoteliers Federation TUROFED, announced that the number of Russian tourists travelling to Turkey by the end of 2017 is expected to exceed pre-crisis levels in 2015.

Other source markets

Turkey has also been benefitting from a huge rise in holiday makers from other regions. More direct flights, relaxed entry requirements, and overlapping national holidays has encouraged 22% more Ukrainian tourists to hop across the Black Sea for their holidays in the first half of the year.

Despite the turbulent political relationship with Germany, this year the country is Turkey’s second largest source market. The return of German holiday makers – a traditionally important inbound tourist group for Turkey – reflects the wider growing interest in Turkey in Europe.

Thomas Cook, the UK’s leading tour operator, has reported strong growth in demand for Turkish holidays in summer 2017 as they offer ‘good value for money.’ Bookings are up 11%, making Turkey the third most popular destination for British tourists after Spain and Greece.

More Gulf tourists are also spending time in Turkish resorts, particularly in the east of the country. In July 2017, eight cities in Saudi Arabia launched direct flights to Trabzon on the Black Sea coast. The UAE and Kuwait also provide direct flights to the area. More than 1 million Iranian tourists visited the country in the first half of the year – 14% more than in 2016. According to tour operators, because Gulf tourists usually travel in groups of extended families and go for packages that include airport transfers, accommodation, and local tours, they spend far more than the average tourist.