When we talk about Turkey our imagination revolves around the great city of Istanbul and its magnificent architectural marvel of Sultan Ahmed Mosque, famously know as the Blue Mosque.The reason may be the Bollywood and Hollywood movies shoot in this historically rich city. But beyond Istanbul and Blue Mosque, which are the centres of attraction, Turkey has a lot in offering from its cuisine, beach sceneries, mountains and a sky filled with balloons.
I recently had an opportunity to have a one on one interaction with Nuray Topuz, a culture and tourism expert from the Republic of Turkey. She explained what the city has in offering for its tourists coming from across the world, Have a look.
What are the highlights in Turkey for a tourist?
Turkey is one of the leading European tourism destinations in the World. Turkey was the 6th country according to foreign tourist arrivals in 2014 and 2015. The stunning scenery, rich historic legacy, beautiful coastlines are some of the factors which attract tourist to the destination. Turkey provides a cosmopolitan lifestyle and a vibrant city atmosphere, nightlife, shopping, sightseeing, cuisine, culture and heritage. Whatever Indian tourists expect, they will find in Turkey. Everyone has multiple opportunities to be part of.
Turkey has a unique culture. Many civilisations like Hittites, Phrygians, Lydians, Ions, Urartians, Persians, Macedonians, Romans, Byzantines lived in Anatolia and culture is inherited from them. Therefore, Turkey is a melting pot of many civilisations.
Two of the Seven Wonders of The World are in Turkey: Temple of Artemis and Mausoleum of Halicarnassus. Turkey have 15 cultural and 2 mixed sites in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Turkey is like an open museum.
In addition to historical and natural beauties, Turkey has some of the best hotel quality and tourism infrastructure.
How easy is it to visit Turkey and what is the process to apply for a tourist visa?
Since Turkey is at the crossroads of Asia and Europe, it is a very convenient country for Indians. Turkish Airlines have direct flights from Mumbai and New Delhi to Istanbul. It takes aproximately 6-7 hours to come to Istanbul. For visa application the reciprocity principle is essential.
What are the main attraction and offering for tourist in Turkey?
The most preferred destinations for Indians in Turkey are Istanbul with historical Peninsula including Topkapı Place, Hagia Sophia Museum, Blue Mosque and some other historical places, with shopping facilities, cosmopolitan life style, nightlife; Antalya with blue flagged coastal areas, luxury golf hotel facilities, cuisine and nightlife; Cappadocia with fairy chimneys, air balloon ride and rock-cut churches of the Byzantine Era; Izmir with ancient cities like Ephesus and Pergamum, natural beauties, high quality hotels and vibrant city life; Pamukkale with the pure white travertine terraces; Muğla with blue flag coastal areas such as Ölüdeniz and İztuzu Beach which is home of caretta carettas; Konya with whirling dervishes and Rumi; Çanakkale with Troy Antique City and Galipoli Historical Peninsula.
Istanbul, Antalya, İzmir, Muğla are the destinations for Indian weddings. Every year some of the Indian families prefer Turkey for their weddings and also for their honeymoon. These cities are also very popular MICE tourism facilities. Istanbul is among the most popular ten destinations for conferences.
Alternatively Dalaman, Fethiye, Bodrum and Black Sea Region are the one which can be highlighted. We are offering many adventure activities in Black sea region like skiing, parachuting etc.
Is Turkey a destination for budget travellers?
All types of Indian travellers are welcomed by Turkey. The prices are very competitive when we compare with European destinations and the quality of the services are very high. There are different type of tourism facilities within coastal tourism, ecotourism, adventure tourism, cultural tourism which is suitable for all types of budgets.
Where does India-Turkey tourism stand at the moment?
Turkey Tourism and Culture Ministry has started its promotional activities in 2008 and has been working for Indian market. The number of tourist coming from India increased by the time. In 2017, aproximately 87000 Indians visited Turkey and in 2018 we are expecting 100,000 to 150,000 travelers from India.
How do you see India as a market for tourism?
There were approximately 23 million Indian outbound tourists in 2017. This number is projected to increase by 10% in 2018 to 25 million. Therefore, Turkey targets more tourists from India. The connectivity between the two countries is increasing and we look forward developing it further.