Istanbul’s shopping festival woos global bargain hunters

The Grand Bazaar will join in the<br>40-day festival

ISTANBUL’S first International Shopping Festival (ISF) is due to take place from March 18 to April 26 with the Turkish capital’s retailers promising special events and discounts of up to 50 per cent.

The 40-day-long shopping event is expected to attract millions of bargain hunters from across the globe who will win all kinds of prizes, including a brand new car every day during the festival.

Tourists will enjoy tax-free shopping as well as heavy discounts on a wide range of items including jewellery, perfumes, textiles, handicrafts and electronics items as shops and malls try to outdo each other in sales.

The ISF will also feature a range of colourful events from music to street performances offering wholesome family entertainment.

Sedat Gönüllüoğlu, the Turkish Cultural and Tourism Attaché in Dubai, said: “Istanbul is gearing to have yet another mega tourist event and for 40 days and 40 nights the first annual Istanbul Shopping Festival will transform the cosmopolitan city into a shopping heaven. The event is set to attract millions of shoppers from surrounding countries who can visit Turkey without a visa.

“Istanbul attracts more than 700,000 tourists from the Gulf countries every year and we hope to attract more than 1.2 million visitors from the region during this year’s festival. Our aim is to stimulate retail sales during the festival period to reach $10 billion by the centennial of Turkey’s founding in 2023.”

Istanbul has rapidly emerged as a tourist capital and a very busy shopping destination for the surrounding countries. With a population of 14 million people, Istanbul has more than 90 new shopping centres as well as many street venues. Topping all that, the city has the world’s biggest and oldest shopping centre, the Grand Bazaar (pictured), famous for its jewellery, hand-painted ceramics, carpets, embroideries, spices and antique shops.

During ISF, shopping outlets will be open until 11 pm with special discounts, up to 50 per cent,  offered after 10 pm, as well as price reductions and activities at some of Istanbul’s most famous markets including Taksim, Nisantasi, Bakirkoy, Fatih, Bahariye and the iconic Spice Bazaar.

Turkish Airlines is a major supporter of İSF and will offer visitors special fares and will consider increasing travelers’ baggage allowances during the festival.

“The ISF is set to be a celebration for shopping lovers to visit Istanbul – a city that has been a top choice for shoppers for more than 1,500 years. From hip boutiques in trendy neighbourhoods and colourful bazaars and markets to more than 90 modern malls featuring top designers, travellers and locals can expect a diverse shopping experience when perusing Istanbul’s wares. Famous for its handmade rugs, clothing, antiques, spices, sweets, footwear and accessories, visitors to Istanbul rarely walk away empty-handed,” concluded Gönüllüoğlu.

Turkish Airlines (THY) will operate its first flight to Valencia, Spain, on March 27 and will operate the route four times weekly on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday.

The carrier will also begin a service from Istanbul to Malaga, Spain, running three times weekly on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday from April 27, bringing the number of Spanish destinations served by THY to four.

Flights from Istanbul to Toulouse, France, will be launched on April 16 and will operate three times weekly, increasing to four times weekly from July 3.