$50m bid to revive tourism in Turkey


Turkey has launched a $50 million marketing campaign for this year to revive its tourism industry from the effects of global downturn sparked by the September 11 attacks in the US.

The campaign which aims to increase the country's tourism revenue to more than $12 billion this year will highlight Turkey's unique position as a natural, cultural and historical bridge between Asia and Europe.

A total of $1 million have been earmarked by the Turkish tourism ministry for the Middle East which has become one of the fastest growing market for the country, said Hasan Zongur, infomation attache at the Turkish tourism office in Kuwait, one of the only two in the region.

Tourist arrivals from Kuwait and other Gulf countries jumped by an average of 45 per cent in the year to June 2001, according to Zongur.

The tourism office aims to attract 60,000 tourists this year from the Gulf as a result of its marketing campaign which has set ambitious targets.

Overall from the Middle East, the tourism ministry has targetted one million visitors, a sharp increase from the 830,000 tourists who visited Turkey from the region last year. These included 250,000 citizens of Arab countries, 230,000 Israeli citizens and 350,000 citizens from Iran.

Turkey recorded double digit growth in tourist arrivals from around the world until September 11. The events in the US however led to a sharp decline of about 10 per cent in October and November.

Tourist traffic picked up however in December although it was still down 6.3 per cent over the previous year, said Zongur.

An ancient land and a modern nation, Turkey which has invested more than $25 billion since the early 1980s in tourism infrastructure, remains confident of continuing growth in the sector.

Today, the country has 2,000 new hotels, six international 36 local airports, 16 marinas and many tourism schools and othe infrastructure.

It has also eased its laws and offered attractive incentives to lure foreign investors in the sector.

The country has much to offer tourists - natural wonders like Capadoccia and Pamukkale, 8,000km of coastline, mountains, forests, rivers, waterfalls, plateaus and national parks besides a history that stretches back 9,000 years that encompasses different cultures.

It has also made great efforts to diversify touristic activities such as health tourism, yachting, underwater diving, rafting, windsurfing, fishing, golf, air sports, hunting, winter sports, mountaineering, trekking, horseback riding, plateau hiking etc.

The payoff too has been great - more than 11 million tourists visited Turkey last year bringing over $10 billion in revenue to the country.