Turkey and India
For the last two years, Turkey has not fared well in the travel and tourism industry. Tourists dwindled as a state of disastrous events engulfed them. The country wants to be back on top form though and for 2018, are reaching out to many countries to help them do that. India features prominently on their radar.
Every year, 22 million Indians go abroad for holidays, and in October of 2017, 650 Indian travel agents gathered at the Hilton hotel in Dalaman to listen to what President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had to offer them.
The Turkish Indian Tourism Council (TITC) organised the convention, in which Culture and Tourism Minister Numan Kurtulmus also took the microphone to say further steps are being taken to increase warm relations with India.
Current figures say 80,000 Indians travel to Turkey every year, but the Turkish tourism industry wants to increase this number in 2018, to 200,000.
By 2023, the 100th year of Turkey’s independence and the final deadline for Turkey’s economic, strategic plan, they want to host 2 million Indian tourists every year.
Industry insiders say one way to achieve this is to increase direct flights between the two countries, but Turkish Airlines is already one step ahead. With plans to expand in Africa and Asia, they say China and India will dominate half of the global market in the future and Turkey must be ready to cash in.
They expect the completion of Istanbul Third Airport will help them expand their schedule and flight frequencies. When fully completed, the airport will be the largest in the world and a leading hub of travel and export/import industries.
Turkey is reaching out to the Indians because of their ability to spend big while on holiday. Estimations say they spend 2000 euros when they visit Turkey, but this does not include the Indians who sign up for luxury wedding packages in places like Antalya. It is common for millionaire Indians to take over a whole hotel for four days or more and spend thousands of Turkish liras in the process.
From Tourism to Cinema
As well as the average tourist, Turkey is also looking to India’s equivalent of Hollywood to boost its number. Turkey is luring the Indian film industry with cash incentives and professional help such as scouters and location finders.
Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan strongly supports this plan of action, and if Antalya’s ambition of becoming the film capital of Turkey plays out, India could well be the number one guest on the VIP list.
Every year, Indians shoot 200 films abroad, and in November, Indian producers, scriptwriters and actors came to Turkey to find out what the country can offer them. Why is Turkey targeting the Indian film industry?
Simply because India has many film fans, and earlier productions prove fans are willing to travel to countries where their movie stars have played the part. So, targeting film and media also contributes towards Turkey’s tourism industry.
Don’t Ignore the Business Market
Turkish retail giants have also attended business forums in India with the aim of expanding into the country’s market and receiving investment into their Turkish operations. With a population that is just over 1.3 billion people, it is a vast emerging market to join.
More than 400 retailers, including textile producer Kigili who already operates in 28 other countries, took part in the business forum and fair. An announcement by the company said they are currently looking for partners in India, and are negotiating with interested partners. India’s fast-growing economy is sweet news to the Turks who enjoyed a boom of their economy, after 2003.
With all this interest in Turkish, Indian relations, it would be natural to assume this is a new-found friendship, yet that assumption is far from the truth.
The nargile pipe, a favourite Turkish tradition dating from the Ottoman times originated from India 1000 years ago. The original design was a straw dipped into a hollowed-out coconut, and by the 16th century, its design had evolved and made its way to Constantinople.
The Turks and Indians also have a brotherhood story stretching back decades, as detailed in the book ‘People's Mission to the Ottoman Empire. Written by Burak Akcapar, the Turkish ambassador to India, it tells the story of Indian Muslims who gave aid to the Turks during their war of independence in 1923 and earlier during the Balkan wars.
Indeed, this new-found friendship is just a renewal of past ties and industry insiders are eager to see how the relationship will evolve in 2018.