Tourism in Turkey: A Multi-Billion Industry
Turkey is officially one of the top ten countries in the world for tourism. Ranking by number of visitors, more than 14 million people crossed into its borders in 2014, generating an industry of billions of dollars.
It hasn’t always been like this though. For most of the 20th century, Turkey was a hidden secret. The Internet had not yet been born and only the upper-class circles of society could afford to travel. Then in the 1970s, the hippie generation was born and many westerners travelled on the hippie trail, an overland journey from Europe to south Asia that passed through Turkey.
The Pudding Shop in Istanbul (Lale Lokanta) was a meeting point for these hippie travellers to swap information and hitch rides and this was probably, Turkey’s first introduction into what was then the main tourism scene.
Then in the 1980s, the package holiday concept was born and prices suited middle-income families who wanted to travel the world. Main-street travel agents sold packages consisting of flights, hotels, and all tours included, so places like Istanbul, Patara, and Olympos on the Mediterranean coast became popular destinations.
The introduction of the Internet widely promoted independent travel but a key concept of Turkey’s rise in tourism was a detailed 20-year plan of action started in 2003. This plan of action covered every aspect of travel in Turkey such as themed holidays, cultural information, and destination promotion. Although the number of visitors to Turkey dropped in 2015 and is likely to do so in 2016, Turkey’s multi-billion tourism industry is still one of the best performing countries in the world.
Most Popular Areas of Turkey for Tourism
City Breaks in Istanbul
Mostly called the crossroads between the east and the west, Istanbul is now a worthy contender when battling against the likes of Rome and Milan as ideal city break destinations. Providing a diverse selection of amenities and facilities, the city accommodates budget and luxury travellers.
Most want to see the UNESCO buildings in the old part of the city that is Sultanahmet. Historical buildings such as the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia are a short distance from the Topkapi palace that was home to the first Ottoman sultans.
In the new part of the city, the Taksim and Beyoğlu districts are the entertainment and shopping capitals. Also, home to luxurious hotels such as the Hilton, the district boasts of high-end nightclubs and restaurants.
As the second most popular holiday district in Turkey, the Antalya region consists of smaller coastal resorts. Kemer, a beach destination with all-inclusive hotels neighbours the smaller holiday resort of Belek that became famous when Tiger Woods arrived for a championship tournament. Now matching the likes of Portugal and Spain, and called the golfing capital of Turkey, it accommodates golfers perfectly with its large selection of luxury hotels and golfing villas.
The bustling town of Alanya does well because of its red castle, close distance to nature places and its large selection of sandy beaches, while the smaller resort of Side that was built around ancient ruins, claims fame through its landmark Temple of Apollo. Sitting on the outskirts are the smaller and quainter holiday villages of Cirali and Olympos that are close to the touristic attraction of the burning flames of Chimera.
The Lunar Landscape of Cappadocia
Cappadocia’s popularity came about because of its cave churches, hotels and homes as well as underground cities and fairy chimneys that are weird rock formations shaped over thousands of years from wind erosion.
An early morning sunrise trip in a hot air balloon is the most popular way to see them from a birds eye view otherwise hiking, horse riding and quad biking are the best ways to see the vast landscape consisting of more than 600 ancient cave churches.
Highlighting the beginnings of Christianity in the area, The Goreme open-air museum is a UNESCO world heritage site receiving hundreds of visitors every day because of its cave churches with 13th and 14th-century frescoes. Goreme town, Uchisar, Urgup and Ortahisar are the main towns that make up this unique holiday destination.
The Sailing Capital of Bodrum
Bodrum often plays host to international celebrities because of its yachting and sailing scene, a concept that came about because of its professionalism in the Blue Voyage and Turkish Riviera themed holidays.
At the same time, it does a marvellous job of catering for budget travellers in smaller resorts like Gumbet while the coastal towns of Yalikavak and Turgutreis are second homes to mainly British expats, Beach holidays are another concept that attracts thousands since Bodrum has an impressive portfolio of sandy beaches and hidden coves.
Marmaris: One of the Oldest Holiday Resorts
When mass tourism took off, the small town of Marmaris was quick to embrace it and these days, it spreads across the bays and up the mountains to form a bustling city. Accommodating every nationality of travellers, it also embraced expats looking for buy-to-let or second home properties. Within the resort, its main feature stretching from one end of the town to the other is its long sandy beach and thanks to the neighbouring resorts of Icmeler and Turunc, it has grown in popularity for road trip holidays.
Tolga Ertukel, owner and director of Turkey Homes says….
Turkey has so many destinations to choose from for an ideal holiday, whether you are a family, group of friends or solo traveller. Each has their own style and character, and you can find out more by checking our area guides.