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Istanbul's tourist inflow still robust as 8-month arrivals top 11.5M

Istanbul Taksim
25.09.23 13:27

Istanbul, Türkiye’s biggest city and a tourist hot spot, welcomed more than 11.5 million foreigners in the first eight months of the year, official data showed Sunday.

The number of tourists arriving in the metropolis, often described as the bridge between Europe and Asia, jumped 13.2% year-over-year from January through August to 11.52 million, the Culture and Tourism Ministry said.

This year’s momentum has been driven by an influx from Europe, particularly Germany and the United Kingdom, besides arrivals from Russia, mainly due to flight restrictions imposed by Western nations over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Arrivals from the Gulf countries, led by Saudi Arabia, have also gained momentum.

In August alone, arrivals jumped 4.9% to nearly 1.75 million, the data showed, maintaining a strong trend after July’s figure of 1.87 million marked the highest monthly level in a decade.

Visitors from Russia (179,017), Germany (127,486), Iran (101,459) and the United States (81,257) topped the list of foreigners who visited Istanbul in August.

Among others, arrivals from Saudi Arabia (74,664), the United Kingdom (72,002) and France (61,850) also gained pace.

Within the Arab countries, Saudi Arabia maintained its leading position, followed by Iraq, Kuwait, Algeria, Jordan, Morocco, Libya and Egypt.

The overall figure accounts for almost a third of 33.4 million tourists who arrived in Türkiye in the eighth-month period, which marked a nearly 14% year-over-year jump, according to the Culture and Tourism Ministry data.

The city’s main gateway, Istanbul Airport, continued to play a pivotal role in facilitating international travel. In August alone, some 1.23 million tourists opted to use Istanbul Airport out of a total of nearly 8.1 million foreign travelers serviced in the first eight months.

Tourism represents a critical source of revenue for Türkiye as the government focuses on curbing the chronic current account deficit.

Last year’s complete rebound from the pandemic fallout saw the number of tourists near a record, generating all-time high revenues and prompting the government to raise its annual estimates.

The government sees foreign arrivals reaching 60 million this year, which it estimates will hit 90 million in 2028.

For the income, it sees it rising to $56 billion this year and $100 billion five years from now. The revenues surged 27% year-over-year to $21.7 billion in the first six months of this year.

Arrivals surged 80.33% to 44.6 million in 2022, just shy of the peak of 45.1 million in 2019.

Income climbed 53.4% to a record high of nearly $46.3 billion as the lingering effects of the pandemic dissipated and Russian arrivals rocketed after Moscow invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24.

Tourism contributes about 10% to Türkiye’s gross domestic product (GDP). In addition, around 1.7 million people worked in accommodation and food services in 2022 – about 5% of total employment.