The Top Reasons Why Citizens of GCC Countries Choose to Holiday in Turkey
Turkey is truly a country with something for everyone. As a holiday destination, it offers a rich mixture of history with stunning natural scenery, lush green highlands and sparkling coastlines. The natural resources of the land also offer another reason to attract visitors with the huge health benefits of thermal springs and mud baths alongside the country’s booming health tourism industry. Turkey’s major cities, such as Istanbul and Izmir have become so cosmopolitan over the years that they now rival European cities like London and Milan, with designer labels, state of the art technology and fine dining. Of course the delicious and healthy Turkish cuisine is a huge draw for food fanatics with people from Arab states enjoying spending their time socialising around plates of tasty meze and endless variety of delicious Turkish cuisine.
With all of this to offer, Turkey has become the top spot in the world for citizens of GCC countries to spend their vacations, many choosing to take advantage of the fantastic property investment opportunities and buy their second homes in locations across the country. Turkey is such a family friendly country with children playing a huge part in local life, that everybody feels welcome when they visit. With culture, history, health benefits, beautiful weather, stunning scenery and luxury shopping opportunities, Arabic speaking countries are turning to Turkey for fun and educating vacations.
The Black Sea’s Cooler Mountain Regions
With citizens of GCC countries being used to living in swelteringly dry and hot, desert like conditions at home, the highlands of the Black Sea Region are the perfect get away spot. This region offers something completely different from the hustle and bustle of the cities and the hot weather of the southern coastline, with a combination of damp northerly and westerly winds and an almost uninterrupted wall of mountains south of the shore. The temperatures are cooler, the weather is wetter and the landscape is green for as far as the eye can see, offering GCC visitors a stark contrast to their home lands.
Extending from just east of Istanbul to the border with Georgia, the Black Sea Region has a short summer season which can bring warmer weather, perfect for swimming in the fresh waters from nearby rivers the Don, Dnieper and Danube to the north. The region’s green cities of Trabzon and Rize are a particular lure for Arab tourists, with their picturesque views and beautiful surrounding nature. The area has also become hugely popular with property investors, in particular the cities of Rize, Trabzon and Giresun.
Luxury Shopping in Istanbul
Istanbul has a huge myriad of shopping opportunities, from high-end fashion designers to antiques, jewellery and the popular bartering culture of the infamous Grand Bazaar. In Istanbul, you really can shop until you drop! The most historic shopping experience is of course, the Grand Bazaar on Nuruosmaniye Street. This is home to Armağan, a large seven storey retail outlet that sells traditional crafts, furniture, artwork, textiles and jewellery. Bağdat Avenue and Nişantaşı offer a completely opposite experience with state of the art shopping malls, luxury boutiques and shops by top international designers.
Bağdat Avenue in particular is the ideal place to spend a day shopping, with stores such as Longchamp, Michael Kors and Tommy Hilfiger available alongisde popular Turkish brands, including Vakko and Brandroom. The shopping mall, İstinye Park is the place to be for a more streamlined day of shopping, in its lavish setting and rows of high end shops like Burberry, Dior, Fendi, Ralph Lauren, Hugo Boss, Gucci and many, many more. A day spent here could also find you celebrity spotting as you shop amongst the rich and famous of Turkey.
Booming Health Tourism
Health Tourism is happening in a big way in Turkey, with the country being one of the most popular destinations for anybody experiencing illness or needing cosmetic surgery. Health resorts, spas, retreats and wellness centres are booming countrywide. But two of the leading examples of what attracts visitors from GCC countries to Turkey, is the vast improvement in technologies enabling eye surgery and in particular, hair transplants.
The main reason why those who need hair transplants choose Turkey is the high quality and low cost. According to the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery’s 2015 data, more that 15,000 people a year travel to Turkey for hair transplants, generating up to $250 million in Turkey alone as part of an industry which is worth about $1 billion worldwide. Patients seeking hair transplants tend to come from Middle Eastern countries and Arab States, many choosing to remain in Turkey afterwards for a holiday with their families. Eye laser surgery is also a huge draw for many people with the cost of this treatment being so high around the world. Turkey’s technology is one of the best in the world, yet costs are still kept low.
The Benefits of Natural Thermal Springs
Linked to health tourism of course, Turkey has an incredibly rich wealth of natural resources which provide an enormous benefit to health and wellbeing. With much of the country sitting on a fault line of volcanic resources, particularly the area in the west is littered with sulphurous hot thermal springs which are perfect for aiding skin conditions and many other health concerns. This accompanied by skin nourishing and cleansing mud baths, along with the vitamin D rich sunshine of the Mediterranean and Aegean coasts, Turkey is the perfect place for those who wish to relax and try and remedy any sickness, joint troubles, muscular pains and skin conditions that they may have, in a natural environment. These natural resources are often linked with spas and retreats, particularly on the Bodrum Peninsula.
Other popular destinations for thermal spas include Yalova, Denizli, Bursa, Afyon, Sivas and Izmir. Yalova is particularly well known for aiding rheumatic diseases and arthritis. In the Central Anatolian Province of Sivas is home to a special kind of fish which is believed to treat psoriasis and they are often known as ‘physician fish’ by the locals.
It is no secret that Turkey has a wealth of history to share with the world. There are thousands upon thousands of ruins from a mass of past civilisations to explore, from the nomads of the bronze and iron age and Byzantine, through the Hellenistic, Roman and the infamous Ottoman eras, right through to the recent subsequent ‘Ghost Villages’ of the Greco-Turkush War. With many of these ruins and areas now UNESCO world heritage sites, history buffs are in their element in Turkey. The most famous sites in Istanbul include the Byzantine Basilica museum of Hagia Sophia, the Basilica Cistern, the Sultan Ahmed Blue Mosque and Ottoman era Topkapı Palace.
The Ephesus Archaeological Museum in Selçuk near Izmir houses various artefacts from Prehistoric, Mycenaean, Archaic, Classical, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Selçuk and Ottoman Periods. Bodrum Castle was constructed by the Knights of Rhodes in the 15th century during the crusades of the middle ages and the ancient city of Hierapolis which is situated next to the famous Pamukkale, more fondly known as the ‘Cotton Palace’ dates back to the 2nd century BC when the dynasty of the Attalids and the Kings of Pergamon established the thermal spa there. Cappadocia is one of the most popular historical sites in Turkey, with its fairy chimneys and rock cave houses, it draws hundreds of thousands of visitors each year who enjoy watching sunrise over the surreal landscape and ancient underground cities.
The Beautiful Nature
Turkey is a country that has a vast array of natural wonders and a landscape that is ever changing. From craggy mountains and lush forests to sparkling rivers and expansive lakes, all of which attract incredible wildlife, Turkey is the perfect place for nature enthusiasts who enjoy seeing a country in its original state. The unspoiled nature attracts bird watchers, turtle fans, fishing hobbyists, hikers, sailors, cyclists, mountaineers, swimmers and extreme sports participants. You could enjoy a day trekking through the lush mountain forests, ether by foot or by horse, or you could enjoy the view from above if you are brave enough to paraglide, parasail, balloon or sky dive. It certainly is a very different landscape and environment to what the citizens of GCC states are used to and offers them an experience very different from what they are used to.
Some of the favourite natural wonders of Turkey include the famous Iztuzu Beach near Dalyan, more fondly known as ‘Turtle Beach’, Ölüdeniz near Fethiye which is unique for its natural treasure, the Celebes Vadisi or ‘Butterfly Valley’ and the Babadağ Mountain. The Dream Garden ‘Uzungöl’ can be found among the foggy mountains of the Black Sea where you can find thousands of different natural colours with the various different species of flora and fauna. Pamukkale, and area of limestone travertine waterfalls and the volcanic landscape of Cappadocia are probably the most popular natural sites in Turkey as they are so completely different and totally unique.
Expansive Turkish Cuisine
Turkish food is among the best in the world. It is all freshly produced and locally grown, meaning that it is healthy and nutritious. Eating as a family or as a group of friends and celebrating with food is a huge part of Turkish culture and everybody enjoys the social aspect of enjoying a meal together, be it breakfast, lunch, dinner or a late night snack. Turkish food caters for every eventuality. The Turkish breakfasts are the perfect way to start the day, with healthy snacks such as dates and olives, cucumber and tomato, accompanied by bread, condiments, cheese and eggs. Breakfasts can last for hours, just as late night meze snacks can accompany with cold glass of ayran or freshly squeezed juices. Main meals are usually made up of fresh fish or local meats alongside fresh salad and vegetables and include some of the most famous dishes in the world, such as kebabs and Ottoman clay pots.
While on holiday, meal times can be one of the most important times of each day, bringing family members and friends together. Turkish food culture is not that different from that of other Middle Eastern countries and GCC states and is one of the top draws for these nationalities to holiday in Turkey.
The Stunning Coastlines
If there is anything that Turkey is not lacking, it is beautiful coastlines. Thousands of kilometres of beautiful rocky mountainside shores, pebbled and white sandy beaches line the country with their crystal clear turquoise waters. With it’s many winding rivers and mountain surrounded lakes, water plays a huge part in the landscape of Turkey, but it is its beaches that attract holiday makers from all over the world, not just the GCC states and Middle Eastern countries. The beaches are beautifully clean and the waters are safe for swimming, even for those with young children. The coastline of Turkey also attract a gentle breeze, even at the hottest times of year making beach time a pleasant experience for all.
It is not only beach bums that are attracted to Turkey. The pristine and calm waters of Turkey are also a huge attraction for those who sail, particularly yacht owners from the Gulf states. With many beautiful harbours around the country, such as Bodrum and Fethiye and with the south west’s proximity with the Greek Islands, sailing holidays around the coast of Turkey are becoming increasingly popular. Sailing is a holiday of its own and with many boat owners in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, Turkey is the perfect destination for boat lovers, particularly those who consider buying a holiday home. With so many beautiful places sporting fantastic marinas and harbours, the southern coastline in particular is hugely attractive to those from the GCC states.
Second Home Property Investment
For anybody buying a property abroad as a second home, it is all about the location, so long as it is for the right price. Turkey is not only affordable, but offers incredible opportunities for a fantastic holiday. Even after many years of using a second home in Turkey, there are endless possibilities for activities if required. But with its beautiful nature and stunning beaches, there is also always time to relax. Turkey is not only affordable to get to, but living costs are low and property can be a bargain. With the fast paced life in the GCC states, the laid back and happy lifestyle in Turkey can make for the perfect getaway. That added to the fact that everybody falls in love with Turkey. It is a place you want to go back to again and again; it is the perfect place for a second home.
Owner and Director of Turkey Homes, Tolga Ertukel also adds, “Yes, not only is Istanbul the perfect city for vacations and second homes, but the outskirts of Istanbul are perfect too, with places like Yalova and its natural spa attractions creating spa concept homes. Bursa’s old Ottoman heritage is also becoming hugely popular with neighbouring GCC countries too and it is a city which sports modern apartments and villas on waterfront locations. Turkey offers a beautiful second home opportunity for lifestyle seekers as well as excellent investment opportunities at easily affordable prices.”