Early bookings in the European market suggest Turkey may experience a significant increase in the number of European tourists in 2018.

Tourism professionals have claimed that European vacationers are once again looking at Turkey as many were no satisfied with the quality of service elsewhere while the perception that Turkey is a safe country has also re-emerged.

They said the Turkish industry was expecting a 30 percent increase in early bookings coming from the European market, especially from the U.K., and from families with children.

Burak Tonbul, the general manager at Thomas Cook’s Turkey representative, Diana Travel, said the July 15 coup attempt and a number of terrorist attacks in the past two years, saw a drop in interest from families with children.

“However, that interest has gone up again as far as early bookings are concerned. This shows that the perception of Turkey being a safe country has also re-emerged,” he said.

Tonbul said early bookings in the European market were going very well.

“If everything went as expected, there will be a 50 percent increase in the number of tourists coming from the U.K. They expected very high demands from Belgium as well.

“We expect to reach the 2015-figures in the Belgian market. The Northern European markets, including Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Denmark, were expected to grow by 30 percent.

“There is also mobility in the Netherlands. Even if we cannot catch 2015 figures, we will increase the figures by 10 to 15 percent compared to 2016.” Tonbul said, adding that the increase in the number of tourists will also drive up the prices gradually.

Turkish Hoteliers Federation (TUROFED) Chairman, Osman Ayik said they had positive signs from Europe. Pointing out Germany as the market’s major player, he said there were strong initiatives to increase the mobility in Germany.

He said a joint project carried out by the Culture and Tourism Ministry, Turkish Travel Agencies Association (TURSAB), and the Mediterranean Touristic Hoteliers Association (AKTOB) made a huge difference.

“In May 2018, the German travel agencies will hold their general assembly in Belek, Antalya from May 17 to May 20. We will welcome over 1,000 German travel agencies and their employees.”

TURSAB Foreign Operations Representative, Huseyin Baraner also identified Germany as the main market in Europe.

“We experienced some losses because of the political tensions between the two countries. However, in recent weeks, Germany has given positive signals. In fact, Germany has problems such as failure to form a government and the repressive attitude of U.S. President [Donald] Trump. They want to improve relations with Turkey,” he said.

Baraner said early bookings from German operators have already gone up by 40 percent.

“Families with children, in particular, have started to choose Turkey again for vacation as many people have not been satisfied with the quality of service they received elsewhere.”

Antalya Governor Munir Karaloglu said in 2017, the number of tourists increased 60 percent compared to the previous year. Recalling that Antalya closed 2016 with 6.2 million tourists, Karaoglu said they expect to close 2017 with 10.5 million along with transit passengers, suggesting that 2018 will be a better year for tourism.

“Early bookings are going very well. Especially from central Europe. There is a good increase in Germany, the Netherlands, and Belgium,” Karaoğlu said.

“Scandinavian countries are also active. The Russian market will continue to grow. We expect Antalya to break the all-time record in 2018. We are aiming for around 13 to 14 million tourists.”

Source:  Daily Sabah

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